Watch as officers search for the drugs on board the ocean going tugboat Thoran, which was intercepted in the Atlantic Ocean, around 400 miles from the Spanish coast

Seven people have been arrested after 3.7 tonnes of cocaine was found on board an ocean going tugboat in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Spanish authorities intercepted the vessel around 540 miles off the Canary Islands after acting on intelligence from the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

An extensive search of the tugboat resulted in the discovery of 165 individual packages of cocaine, hidden in a watertight compartment beneath the galley floor.

Each package contained around 23 kilos of powder.

The NCA said that while the destinations of the drugs isn’t known, if cut and sold in European countries “they could have fetched over 200 million pounds”.

A tug boat, which was intercepted in the Atlantic Ocean, alongside a pier in Spain

The ocean going tugboat, Thoran, where the drugs were found

The seven crew – six men from Turkey and one from Azerbaijan – were arrested by Spanish officers, and the Cormoros-flagged vessel towed into the Spanish port of Cadiz on Friday afternoon (6 October).

The tugboat, which originated from Colombia, had been monitored by the authorities across the Atlantic Ocean since mid-September.

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The operation involved NCA, Spanish Customs (DAVA), the Spanish National Police and the Spanish Civil Guard, and was coordinated by the multi-national Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) in Lisbon.

Packets of cocaine found on an ocean going tugboat in the Atlantic

The drugs were found in a water-tight compartment under the galley

There was also collaboration of the Dirección de Antinarcóticos (DIRAN) – Anti-Narcotics Directorate of Colombia.

Mark Blackwell from the NCA, said: “Seizing this quantity of cocaine represents a major disruption to international crime groups, depriving them of revenue potentially running into the hundreds of millions of pounds.”

“We’re working with colleagues in Europe and around the world to disrupt organised criminals in any way we can, and to protect UK and European borders from attempts to smuggle illegal commodities through them,” he added.