Frigate makes huge Caribbean drugs bust

A British frigate, HMS Cumberland, has intercepted a two-tonne haul of cocaine with an estimated street value of around £200 million in the Western Caribbean.

The seizure was made during a routine counter drugs operations in international waters off the Nicaraguan coast, following reports that speedboats involved in drug trafficking were in the frigate's patrol area.

A Lynx helicopter with a sniper aboard intercepted the speedboat in international waters about 100 miles off Nicaragua. When the four crew onboard the speedboat tried to outrun the Lynx, a number of shots were directed at the speedboat's engines and the crew eventually gave themselves up with little resistance.

A team then boarded the vessel from HMS Cumberland and a search discovered a number of sacks of cocaine onboard. They crew were arrested and detained pending further investigations.

Secretary of State for Defence John Reid said: "This is a great success for the Royal Navy.

"Drugs are a scourge of civilised society, crippling the lives of millions around the world. Taking the fight to those who defy the international community is as vital now as it has ever been. For that reason, I pay tribute to the crew of HMS Cumberland, whose professionalism and commitment to the task has dealt a sledgehammer blow to the drug traffickers."

The Commanding Officer of HMS Cumberland, Captain Simon Ancona, said: "Operations like these send a strong message that governments, agencies and armed forces worldwide will work together in a determined effort to counter drug running.

"This operation has stopped Class A drugs reaching the streets and harming our communities. The ship's prompt reactions allowed the appropriate and lawful action to take place with the minimal use of force. We worked closely with our allies as part of an international collaboration against drug smuggling."

HMS Cumberland is on a four-month patrol in the Caribbean, and as well as anti-drug trafficking operations, she is currently monitoring the progress of Hurricane Beta.

In 2003, HMS Cumberland and support vessel RFA Wave Knight intercepted a former motor torpedo boat in mid-Atlantic and seized 3.6 tonnes of cocaine.


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