Royal Navy And US Coastguard Stepping Up War On Cocaine Pirates Of The Caribbean.

Photo: US Coastguard. if it looks like a package of cocaine, then it probably is.
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The British Royal Navy has seized nearly US $18 million worth of drugs after it intercepted smuggling speedboats in the Caribbean Sea in operations some of which were in collaboration with the US Coastguard.

Across two operations, HMS Trent seized 200kg of cocaine and other drugs with an estimated street value of approximately US $18 million.

British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps praised the Navy’s work.

He said it showed the Navy’s commitment to “disrupt and dismantle” drug traffickers.

British sailors, Royal Marines and a US Coast Guard team on HMS Trent intercepted a smuggling speedboat immediately following a port visit to the island of Martinique, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

It added the HMS Trent warship launched fast sea boats, piloted by Royal Marines of 47 Commando, to intercept the speedboat, seize the drugs and detain the crew before darkness fell. It is not clear what the fate of the detained sailors will be.

Less than 48 hours later, HMS Trent worked with a US Coast Guard patrol aircraft to track and intercept another speedboat, the MoD said.

HMS Trent has seized drugs worth £307m since it began operating in the Caribbean at the end of 2023.

In February, US $240m worth of cocaine and other drugs was seized, in addition to US $ 85m in January.

Commanding Officer Tim Langford said: “The flexibility shown by my ship’s company to move straight from high-level defence engagement activity in Martinique straight into successful boarding operations is a testament to their dedication and professionalism.

“The level of co-operation between the Royal Navy, US Coast Guard and other partners has been excellent, and has been key to making these seizures possible.”

HMS Trent left its home port of Gibraltar in early December for Guyana in a show of diplomatic and military support for the former British colony.

It came at a time when neighbouring Venezuela renewed its claim for a disputed part of Guyanese territory that is rich in oil and minerals.

HMS Trent is mainly used for tackling piracy and smuggling, protecting fisheries, counterterrorism, providing humanitarian aid, and search and rescue operations, but the Royal Navy says it is also designed for border patrols and defence diplomacy.

At the same time the US Coastguard announced that it had seized more than 1,850 pounds of cocaine with an assessed street value of approximately $24.3 million in Miami, Friday.

The crew interdicted a low-profile go-fast vessel carrying 30 bales of the illicit narcotics and detained five suspected smugglers approximately 190 miles south of Puerto Rico.

The suspected smugglers will face prosecution in federal courts by the Department of Justice.

The seizures are certainly sizeable in terms of weight and potential street value, but whether they will significantly affect the global supply or price of cocaine is another matter. Some commentators say that producers and smugglers expect to have a percentage of their cargoes seized, and that it is all taken into account.

Sources: BBC, US Coastguard.
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