More than three tons of cocaine has been recovered from an ocean going tug intercepted following a joint operation of UK-based National Crime Agency (NCA), Border Force and Royal Navy in the North Sea.
Acting on intelligence supplied by the NCA, the MV Hamal was intercepted by the Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset and Border Force cutter Valiant about 100 miles east of Aberdeen on Thursday 23 April. The vessel was taken to Aberdeen harbour where a search began led by Border Force officers, with operational support from Police Scotland.
The cocaine had an estimated total weight in excess of three tonnes which, if cut and sold in the UK, could have had a likely potential street value of more than £500 million, depending on purity, NCA said.
“The result of the search is this massive discovery – believed to be the biggest single class A drug seizure on record in the UK, and likely to be worth several hundred million pounds,” said John McGowan, senior investigating officer for the NCA, based at the Scottish Crime Campus, Gartcosh.
The nine-man crew of the Hamal, all Turkish nationals aged between 26 and 63, have been charged with drug trafficking offences. They appeared before Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Monday 27 April where they were remanded in custody until their next appearance on Tuesday 5 May.