Interpol (European law enforcement) seized some 4 tonnes of cocaine, which has an estimated street value of about $260m from a tugboat in between Portugal’s Madeira and the Azores islands.
The drugs, ‘highly pure’ cocaine, were stashed in 165 packages of some 23 kilogrammes each. The boat had left the Spanish port of Cadiz and was headed to the Comoros islands (where it was registered according to official documents). Spanish and Portuguese police cooperated with the UK’s national crime agency and Interpol during the bust.
The crew, all men hailing from Turkey and Azerbaijan, were immediately arrested. So far none of them confessed. However, given the size of the vessel and the weight of the load which simply was spread out all over the ship, it is hard to believe any of them are innocent.
Interpol spokesman Mark Blackwell: “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.”
What is striking is that two days before, another 400kg worth of cocaine was seized some 600 nautical miles off the Azores. That time an Italian yacht was used. Two men were arrested, the 58 year old Italian captain and his 45 year old crew member from Montenegro.
Furthermore, just last Monday , thirteen Moroccans were arrested in Spain trying to smuggle 2.5 tonnes of cocaine from Venezuela for entry into Europe.
And it doesn’t finish there. In May of this year, French police seized 80 million worth of cocaine (1 tonne) in the waters near the Azores, from a Serbian gang of five.
I believe it might be a good idea to post a joint-European police force checking all boats going in and out of Azores the ports.
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