Joint Operation Lands Estimated Tonne of Cocaine From Yacht

25 September 2014

An estimated one tonne of cocaine has been seized as part of an operation involving the National Crime Agency and Irish, French and Venezuelan authorities.

Acting on intelligence provided by the NCA and French Customs DNRED, and in coordination with the UK's National Maritime Information Centre and Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre (MAOC) in Lisbon, the Irish Naval Service intercepted the yacht Makayabella around 300 miles off the south west coast of Ireland on Tuesday.

A search of the vessel, which had sailed from the Caribbean, is ongoing. A tonne of cocaine if cut and sold in the UK would have a street value in excess of £100 million.

Three men on board, all British nationals, from the West Yorkshire area, were detained and taken to the Irish mainland for questioning by An Garda Síochána.

Meanwhile NCA officers, assisted by West Yorkshire Police, located and arrested a 43-year-old man on suspicion of conspiring to import class A drugs at an address in Leeds yesterday. He was later bailed pending further enquiries.

Earlier today a 47-year-old man from Leeds was arrested by the NCA and is now being questionned at a police station in the West Yorkshire area.

One other individual from West Yorkshire is still being sought in connection with the investigation.

Hank Cole, Head of International Operations for the National Crime Agency, said:

"NCA investigators were part of the effort to identify and track the boat across the Atlantic from the Caribbean, leading to its eventual interception off the coast of Ireland. This was a large seizure and our investigation is ongoing.

"Thanks to the co-operation between the NCA and our Irish, French and Venezuelan colleagues, we have managed to prevent this cocaine reaching our streets and causing damage to communities. I pay tribute to all those involved."