See the dramatic photos as a Royal Marine sniper takes out the engine of a speedboat during a six-hour chase in waters between Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
After drug smugglers ignored the warning shots, a Royal Marine snipper took out the speedboat’s engines during a dramatic six-hour chase in the Caribbean.
The drug bust, which saw the capture of more than £40 million worth of cocaine, happened in waters between Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
It involved the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and US Coast Guard.
A Royal Marine sniper in the back of a Lynx helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron first fired warning shots ahead of the speedboat, calling on the traffickers to stop.
When these were ignored, the sniper fired at the vessel’s engine, bringing it to a halt.
A specialist team of US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment then boarded the suspect craft and recovered 14 bales of what they believed were illegal narcotics.
According to the Royal Navy, subsequent tests revealed it to be 350kg of cocaine with a wholesale value in the UK of around £14 million.
“Before the boarding team reached the vessel, the crew were observed ditching several bales overboard; US authorities assessed that 650kg of cocaine worth around £26 million was discarded, while the go-fast (speedboat) itself subsequently sank,” said the Royal Navy in a media release.
The successful bust was sparked by a maritime patrol aircraft sighting the speedboat and directing RFA Wave Knight to intercept.
The fast fleet tanker responded by bearing down on the speedboat – and launching the helicopter, which no boat could outrun.
RFA Wave Knight, which is based in Portland in Dorset, is assigned to Operation Martillo, the international drugs-busting effort across the Caribbean.
The five crew of the speedboat plus the haul of drugs were later transferred to the US Coast Guard cutter Richard Etheridge.
They were subsequently handed over to the authorities in Miami Beach.
Commenting on the operation, Wave Knight’s commanding officer, Captain Nigel Budd RFA, said: “This seizure highlights how effectively the U.S Coast Guard and our Allied partners are working together to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks that depend on the flow of illicit drugs from South America into the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe.”
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