A team of British sailors and Royal Marines, joined by United States Coast Guard (USCG) personnel have interdicted 358kg (790lbs) of cocaine in the Caribbean, depriving traffickers of drugs worth some £81 million ($104 million).
The cocaine parcels were captured in three separate interceptions of drug smuggler’s boats in the Caribbean sea, with British Royal Fleet Auxilliary ship RFA ARGUS and the Royal Navy’s HMS MEDWAY with assistance from USCG teams onboard the British vessels.
The National Crime Agency said the 358kg of cocaine had a value of £81 million. In London, Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey hailed the law enforcement actions, saying the ships had originally been int he Caribbean to respond to huirrcane damage but had linked up with the USCG to intercept drugs as well.
He said: “This is amazing work from our people after months away from home.”
A Royal Navy account of the actions seen by Breitbart London recounts how the RFA Argus responded to a sighting fo a suspicious vessel made by a US maritime patrol aircraft, setting an intercept course but using the weather to keep itself obscured from the target until the last moment.
Despite being a 28,000-tonne, 175m long Naval support vessel the Argus managed to maintain the element of surprise, the Navy said, by using squalls in a storm as cover, while : “her boarding team of Royal Marines of 47 Commando and the US Coast Guard prepared to strike. On approaching the target craft, the Royal Marines were spotted and the suspect vessel’s crew started to throw their illegal cargo overboard.”
Coxswain Corporal Max Bygraves, of 47 Commando’s 539 Raiding Squadron, said of the capture: “Some patches of heavy rain had hidden Argus from sight in the distance and we were closing in unseen. When we were one mile off they saw us and started to run for it. We gave chase.
“We could see people on board throwing packages into the sea. This is important evidence, so we had to stop and collect one. The rest were picked up later. We then continued the chase and managed to catch the vessel.”
Caribbean drug interceptions have long been a regular task for Britain’s Navy, with military and Auxiliary ships frequently in the area to visit and support British territories in the region. Indeed, the Royal Navy was given official thanks at the time of the Royal Marine’s 350th anniversary in 2014 for its work in anti-drugs operations, with a parade at the London Parliament just a day after HMS ARGYLL captured 200kg of cocaine.