Seven Tug Crew Arrested after Cocaine Bust in Atlantic

Image Courtesy: NCA

Seven seafarers have been arrested after Spanish authorities seized close to four tons of cocaine from an ocean-going tugboat in the mid-Atlantic on October 1. 

Following the arrest of the seven men, six of them from Turkey and one from Azerbaijan, the Comoros-flagged vessel Thoran was towed into the Spanish port of Cadiz in the afternoon of October 6.

Acting on UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) intelligence, Spanish authorities intercepted the ship some 400 miles from the Spanish coast at a point between Madeira and the Azores islands.

As disclosed, “an extensive search” resulted in the discovery of 165 individual packages of cocaine, hidden in a sophisticated concealment beneath the galley floor. Each package contained around 23 kilos of powder, amounting to a total of approximately 3,700 kilos of cocaine seized.

While the destinations of the drugs can’t be known, if cut and sold in European countries they could have fetched over GBP 200 million (USD 262 million), according to the NCA.

The operation was jointly conducted by the NCA, Spanish Customs (DAVA), the Spanish National Police and the Spanish Civil Guard, and was coordinated by the multi-national Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon.

“Seizing this quantity of cocaine represents a major disruption to international crime groups, depriving them of revenue potentially running into the hundreds of millions of pounds,” Mark Blackwell from the NCA pointed out.

“We’re working with colleagues in Europe and around the world to disrupt organised criminals in any way we can, and to protect UK and European borders from attempts to smuggle illegal commodities through them,” Blackwell added.

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