Nearly 700kg of cocaine has been seized by the Royal Netherlands Navy in 48 hours in two separate drug busts off the coast of Curaçao
Around 700kg of cocaine has been seized by the Dutch Navy in 48 hours during operations in the Caribbean.
The busts happened in waters between Curaçao and Colombia last week.
The Navy station ship, HNLMS Van Amstel, was patrolling the area as part of an exercise when it received the first report of a suspect motor boat – known as a ‘go-fast’ – north of Colombia’s territorial waters.
The ship is currently helping with anti-drug operations on the Caribbean Sea, and is part of an ongoing counter-narcotics operation led by the United States.
As a result, U.S Coast Guard personnel were on board.
In a media release, the Royal Netherlands Navy said the HNLMS Van Amstel sailed at full speed towards the suspect boat’s position.
The ship’s NH-90 helicopter was used to detect the ‘go-fast’, and help direct two RHIBs from the HNLMS Van Amstel to the boat.
As the RHIBS approached, suspicious packages were thrown into the sea from the ‘go-fast’.
Searchlights from the helicopter were used to quickly locate the ten packages which were then recovered.
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Onboard the ‘go-fast’, personnel found three crew member along with three other suspicious packages.
Since the suspect vessel was not seaworthy, the crew and their contraband were taken aboard HNLMS Van Amstel.
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The packages were examined and found to contain approximately 325kg of cocaine.
Even before the three crew and the confiscated cocaine could be transferred into the custody of the U.S, Coast Guard, another suspect vessel was spotted.
A Dutch Caribbean Coastguard Dash-8 surveillance plane alerted the crew of the HNLMS Van Amstel.
Again, the NH90 maritime combat helicopter was deployed.
The suspect vessel ignored the stop signals from the helicopter crew, resulting in warning shots being fired from the helicopter.
The boat was boarded and 15 bales of cocaine, around 350kg, were seized.
The crew was arrested and transferred with the drugs to a U.S. Coast Guard cutter.
The Commander of HNLMS Van Amstel, commander H.J.F. Toebast, afterwards declared it had been two successful actions within a very short time frame.