The National Crime Agency has announced that just over 10 tonnes of heroin and cocaine have been found on boats in the Mediterranean and Atlantic in the last 10 months

More than 10 tonnes of heroin and cocaine have been seized from boats in the Mediterranean and Atlantic Ocean since the end of 2016.

The National Crime Agency said the seizures were the result of activity by their officers and intelligence sharing.

The latest was 1.2 tonnes of cocaine which was found on board a South American fishing vessel.

It was seized by Spanish officers on 12 June after a joint National Crime Agency and Spanish National Police operation, assisted by Venezuelan and US authorities.

Officers boarded the Petra 900 nautical miles south west of the Canary Islands.

They recovered 40 bales of cocaine hidden on the vessel, and arrested six Venezuelan crew.

Earlier the same month, over a tonne of heroin was seized when the Turkish Navy and Coastguard boarded the Commander Tide, a former oil rig supply vessel, as she sailed towards Turkish waters.

Heroin is found on board a boat in the Mediterranean

Heroin (right) was found on board the former oil rig supply vessel, Commander Tide. Credit: NCA

The vessel was taken to a Turkish military base and officers uncovered a concealment in a ballast tank hiding 1071 kilos of heroin.

All nine Turkish crew members were arrested.

In May, a South American fishing vessel, the Ali Primera, was boarded by Spanish customs and police south west of the Canary Islands.

Around 2.4 tonnes of cocaine was intercepted in the joint operation with Spanish National Police and the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

An officer in a yellow high viz jacket with bails of cocaine

The intercepted cocaine from the Ali Primera. Credit: National Crime Agency

Investigators believe the vessel had sailed from Venezuela towards Europe but was unable to deliver its consignment of drugs and had turned to go back.

It was taken to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria where a search recovered 80 bales of cocaine. Seven crew members were arrested.

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In February, the Lady Michelle, a fishing vessel registered in St Vincent & Grenadines, was intercepted off the north coast of South America by the US and Trinidad & Tobago coastguards.

Officers seized 185 bales of cocaine weighing 4.2 tonnes and arrested four Guyanese crew members.

This consignment is thought to be the biggest drugs seizure in the Atlantic for over 15 years.

Lady Michelle which was carrying 4.2 tonnes of cocaine

The Lady Michelle. Credit: NCA

At the end of 2016, Spanish National Police and the Moroccan coastguard intercepted fishing vessel Zhar II as it approached Moroccan territorial waters.

Officers recovered 2.6 tonnes of cocaine and 10 crew members were arrested.

The deputy director international from the National Crime Agency, Chris Farrimond, said these seizures have put “a massive dent in the pockets of organised criminals in South America, Africa and Europe”.

“We cause considerable damage to their cash flow and their credibility with criminal associates around the world, making it much harder for them to enjoy their profits and reinvest in further crime,” he said.

“The exploitation of maritime traffic is a border vulnerability which the NCA and its international partners pay close attention to,” contained Farrimond.

“These operations are possible because of the NCA’s particular capabilities, the coordination and cooperation role played by its international liaison officer network, and its close partnerships with specialist organisations like the the European Maritime Analysis Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N),” added the deputy director.