British Navy seizes cocaine 'worth £240m'

British Navy seizes cocaine 'worth £240m'

The Royal Navy says it has seized its largest haul of cocaine, with an estimated street value of £240m, BBC reported.

The Portsmouth-based frigate HMS Iron Duke seized more than five-and-a-half tonnes of the drug from a 138ft fishing boat off the coast of South America.

The Royal Navy and US Coastguard jointly intercepted the boat after it was spotted by a navy helicopter crew.

Armed forces minister Bill Rammell praised the operation for "damaging the trade in this vile substance".

He said cocaine "only serves to poison our communities".

Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell praised the team.

The 212 bales of cocaine, weighing about 26kg each, were seized in an area known for trafficking.

Cdr Andrew Stacey said the ship's crew was "delighted".

He said: "This was our third successful drug bust in as many months but this surpasses anything we've had and anything the navy had previously.

"It is the largest drugs bust by value, and by volume, in terms of cocaine. It is a massive blow for the narcotics industry."

Anti-narcotics success

Cdr Stacey said the crew, along with an armed helicopter and inflatable boats, had intercepted the boat, MV Cristal, on 15 September and spent 24 hours searching it before the drugs were found hidden beneath the ship's regular stores.

A concrete floor had to be broken up with sledge hammers and metal panels had to be unbolted before the stash was discovered and removed, he said.

The drug smugglers' boat was later sunk by gunfire.

Cdr Stacey said several drug runners of different nationalities had been arrested but no more details could be revealed.

Another British ship, RFA Fort George, was also involved in the joint operation between the Royal Navy and the US Coastguard.

HMS Iron Duke's primary task, while on a six-month deployment, is to reassure and assist the people of the UK Overseas Territories during the hurricane season.

The warship, which was launched in 1991 and cost £140m to build, is also on stand-by to take part in anti-narcotics operations.

The latest seizure is the third major counter-narcotics success for HMS Iron Duke off South America in recent months.

In raids in July and August, the warship was involved in two operations which seized cocaine with an estimated street value totalling £39m.

Prince William served on HMS Iron Duke in July 2008, during which the crew seized more than £40m of cocaine in the Caribbean.

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