Two men from Jersey have been caught on a yacht in the Caribbean trying to smuggle cocaine with a street value of up to £40 million after French, US and UK police joined up to tackle a major London-based organised crime gang.
The Islanders aged 57 and 42 were heading for the UK with around 250 kilos of cocaine on board the UK-registered SY Hygeia of Halsa before being stopped by French customs off Martinique on Monday.
The pair have not been named.
The arrests follow a joint operation involving the National Crime Agency (NCA), Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the French authorities. They’ve been investigating a London-based organised crime group, with connections to the Caribbean, suspected of being involved in the large-scale importation of class A drugs.
Their International law enforcement partners in Venezuela, the Eastern Caribbean, Jamaica and the USA were also closely involved in tracking the vessel and members of the UK crime group.
The NCA’s head of international operations Hank Cole said: “The NCA used its international reach and worked with partners in the UK and abroad to track this vessel. Together we have stopped a huge consignment of cocaine close to source.
“We have no doubt that without this intervention the drugs would have ended up on the streets of the UK where, after being cut, they would have had a likely potential value of £30-40 million.
“Our investigation into the organised crime network involved in this attempt continues.”
The two men are now facing prosecution by the French authorities.
The MPS Organised Crime Command’s Detective Superintendent Neil Thompson said: “Working alongside the NCA, it is clear that the drugs recovered would have been distributed throughout the streets of London and beyond, generating further criminality and fuelling gang activity.
“These arrests show that there is no criminal out there that is beyond our reach - if you deal in drugs in any scale we will find you, we will arrest you and you will face the consequences of your actions."
The States of Jersey Police has released a short statement in response to the arrests. They say: “The States of Jersey Police were fully aware of this ongoing investigation and the fact that the main suspects were from Jersey. The Force has conducted local enquiries when asked to by the National Crime Agency in support of their operation.”
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