By John Ensor •
Updated: 03 Aug 2023 • 9:00
Boat seized by police.
In a collaborative effort between the Civil Guard, the Customs Surveillance Service and the National Police, a sailboat flying a UK flag was intercepted off the Spanish coast, carrying a staggering 2,000 kilos of cocaine.
This successful operation, reported on Wednesday, August 2, by the Guardia Civil, was initiated thanks to international cooperation, with the MAOC-N (Atlantic Analysis and Operations Center) and the CITCO (Intelligence Center Against Terrorism and Organized Crime) which exchanged crucial information. The National Crime Agency (NCA) of the United Kingdom also played a vital role in the joint effort.
The Customs Surveillance Service acted swiftly upon identifying a suspicious vessel suspected of trafficking drugs from South America to Spain. After more than 48 hours of intensive air and sea surveillance conducted by various resources from Galicia, Cantabria, and the Basque Country, the patrol boat ‘Alcaraván I’, stationed in Santander, located and boarded the sailboat ‘Night Falls’ on midnight of Tuesday, August 1.
What struck the authorities as unusual was the sailboat’s peculiar behaviour, it wasn’t following a specific course but instead was stationary 30 miles north of the coast.
Such a tactic is common in drug smuggling operations, where vessels from South America or the Caribbean carry out a transhipment to another boat to avoid detection en route to their final destination. It is suspected that ‘Night Falls’ was awaiting such a rendezvous.
Upon boarding, officers discovered numerous bales typically used to transport cocaine, scattered throughout the vessel. The crew, consisting of four individuals, including one Spanish, one Colombian, and two Venezuelan nationals, was promptly arrested.
The sailboat and 2,000 kilos of cocaine, valued at about €70 million, were seized and taken to the port of Santander for further legal proceedings.
The entire operation was meticulously directed and coordinated by the Anti-Drug Prosecutor’s Office of the Audiencia Nacional. All detainees, the sailboat, and the confiscated drugs will be handed over to the corresponding Central Court of Instruction.
This interception is a significant milestone in the ongoing fight against drug trafficking along the ‘Atlantic cocaine route,’ a notorious path used by sailing vessels transporting narcotics from South America to Europe.
The successful collaborative effort between Spanish authorities, the UK’s NCA, and international agencies has dealt a major blow to drug smugglers attempting to exploit the maritime routes for their illicit activities.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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