HM Customs Gibraltar seize 53 Bales of illegal drugs during routine sea patrol

Image of drugs seized in Gibraltar.

Image of drugs seized in Gibraltar. Credit: HM Government of Gibraltar

During a routine patrol conducted at approximately 11 am on May 20, 2023, Customs Officers on board HMCV Tango 4 observed suspicious packages of different sizes and wrapping, floating at the eastern side of the Rock, within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters.

As reported this Friday, May 26, in a statement from the Government of Gibraltar, on closer inspection, the officers were able to establish that these were cannabis bales.

In a swift response, they deployed two additional vessels, namely HMCV Seeker and HMCV Tango 1, and coordinated a precise operation to retrieve all the bales, recovering and seizing a total of 53 bales of illegal drugs from the sea.

While specific details cannot be disclosed at this time due to the ongoing investigation, a preliminary assessment sets the full amount of narcotics seized at approximately 2 tonnes with an estimated street value of around 9 million pounds sterling.

The success of this operation is a testament to the unwavering dedication and vigilance of HM Customs Officers who work diligently to protect our borders and the community from the devastating effects of drug trafficking.

Their relentless commitment to intercepting and disrupting the illicit drug trade is crucial in safeguarding the well-being and security of our society.

John Payas, the Collector of Customs, said: “HM Customs remains committed to tackling drug trafficking networks both at an international and regional level and preventing the importation of illegal substances into our jurisdiction”.

“This represents a significant seizure of drugs and underscores the effectiveness of HMC’s ability to curtail illicit drugs trafficking through Gibraltar’s waters and serves as a stark reminder to organized criminal groups that their activities will not go unchecked”, he added.

Fabian Picardo, the Chief Minister, said: “HM Customs Officers work tirelessly to keep drugs off Gibraltar’s streets and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank and congratulate them on this interception, which is just one example of the tangible impact of their stellar efforts on our community”.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at