A UK warship visiting Overseas Territories in the Caribbean has seized over three tonnes of cocaine, the UK Ministry of Defence has reported.
The Plymouth based Royal Navy Warship HMS Portland, which has visited Grand Cayman twice this year, netted its huge haul off the coast of Venezuela in late October.
The cocaine haul came after the ship approached a suspicious looking fishing vessel on a routine dawn search. As the suspicious vessel was approached it increased speed, the Ministry reported. The crew began throwing packages over the side but the fishing vessels soon submitted to a search once it was clear the boat could not escape.
The ship’s commander, Mike Utley said: “I’m delighted to have taken this amount of drugs out of circulation.”
‘The cooperation between the Royal Navy, United States Coastguard and other counter narcotic agencies is essential in the fight against illegal drugs trafficking. This drugs bust is the icing on the cake for what has been an extremely successful deployment.’
According to a Ministry of Defence release, the war carrier also recently reported that another vessel had ditched 3.3 tonnes of cocaine just before being intercepted by the Portland.
Mr. Utley said drug trafficking is a big problem in the region, particularly cocaine trade routes to the US and Europe.
During a recent stop in Montserrat, the crew also discovered the existence four fields of marijuana plants during one of the crew’s daily helicopter flights over countries they visit. The find was subsequently reported to Montserrat authorities.
The war carrier has also been involved in humanitarian duties throughout the hurricane season.
The ship followed Hurricane Dean to Grand Cayman in August, and afterwards conducted a damage assessment on behalf of the Cayman Islands Government. It also conducted a damage assessment for the government of Belize and responded to a call for assistance from Grenada.