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11th Sep 2021

Stockton man arrested as £160m of cocaine seized on luxury yacht

Kieran Galpin


The cocaine has been confiscated

A Stockton man has been arrested after more than two tonnes of cocaine were seized from onboard a luxury Jamaican yacht. The amount of narcotics discovered onboard totals £160m, reports the National Crime Agency.

The Teessider and five Nicaraguans were taken into custody on Thursday evening 80 miles off the coast of Plymouth. The operation was led by the National Crime Agency (NCA), with support from Border Force, and the Australian Federal Police (AFP).


Jamaican vessel ‘Kahu’ was escorted back to the UK mainland, where officials carried out an inspection of the vessel. Inside they discovered enormous amounts of Class A drugs which were then confiscated.

The men involved, ranging in ages from 24 to 49, were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking.

Matt Horne, NCA deputy director, said: “This is a massive haul of cocaine with an estimated street value of around £160m.

“There’s no doubt these drugs would have been sold on into communities across the UK in such ways as County Lines fuelling more crime and misery.”

He continued: “Organised crime groups are motivated by money. The deprivation of these drugs will smash a hole in the OCG’s plans and ability to operate.”

AFP Assistant Commissioner Lesa Gale attributes the success to operation Ironside and its ability to open the “door to unprecedented collaboration across law enforcement agencies around the globe.”

She continued: “This result highlights the importance of the AFP’s partnership with the NCA to combat offshore transnational organised crime that impacts both of our countries.

“The AFP and NCA have a strong, historic relationship and both agencies recognise the significant threat to national security posed by transnational organised crime.”

The FBI and Australian officials have been working together since 2018 to hack the popular messaging app An0m which has led to Operation Ironside to arrest individuals involved in the global narcotics trade across Australia, Asia, South America, and the Middle East.

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