An international sting operation, spearheaded by British authorities in collaboration with French and Spanish counterparts, has successfully thwarted a significant drug smuggling attempt.

The operation culminated on Monday, December 18, with the capture of a Spanish yacht approximately 1,200 miles east of Martinique. The vessel, commandeered by a 29-year-old from Stornoway, Scotland, was intercepted by a French navy frigate.

Following the yacht’s interception, the French navy discovered approximately 40 bundles of cocaine weighing about 1.2 tonnes in total. This haul, potentially worth upwards of £96 million on the streets of the UK, signifies a significant blow to the drug trafficking operations.
Continuing the clampdown, Spanish authorities in Marbella and Valencia swiftly arrested five more suspects linked to the shipment.

Among them was a 62-year-old British national originally from Lincolnshire, now residing in Spain, and his 24-year-old son. The pair were sitting down about to eat in a restaurant in Marbella when the Policia Nacional apprehended them on December 19.

This extensive operation saw the National Crime Agency (NCA) collaborate closely with the Spanish Policia Nacional, French customs, the French Navy, and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon.

Paul Owen, the NCA’s International Liaison Officer in Madrid, stated: ‘This multi-national operation has seen a massive consignment of cocaine prevented from reaching Europe and huge profits denied to organised criminals.

‘I do not doubt that some of these drugs were destined for the UK. Tackling these global networks requires international law enforcement cooperation, and I’m grateful to our partners in France, Spain, the Caribbean and MAOC-N for their assistance.

‘Working together, we are determined to do all we can to target, disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking groups and prevent them from fuelling violence, intimidation and decay in UK communities.’