£160 million worth of cocaine has been prevented from hitting Wiltshire’s streets following a sea operation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
County Lines drug dealing is a huge problem for communities across the country, including Swindon due to its road and rail links, but seizing such a massive haul will likely put a dent in their criminal activity.
Six men, including one Briton from County Durham, were arrested on Thursday when the NCA – along with the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Border Force – boarded a luxury yacht sailing from the Caribbean 80 miles off the coast of Plymouth.
The boat was escorted back to the UK mainland where a team carried out a deep rummage search and discovered the enormous haul of class A drugs.
The men, whose ages range from 24 to 49, were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking. They remain in custody.
The arrests demonstrate the strength of the NCA’s international partnerships – working with the AFP who as part of the operation used evidence from their Operation Ironside – the country’s investigation into the AnOm encrypted comms platform.
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.
“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.
“Also, the arrests of the men transporting the drugs means the crime group has lost trusted offenders who would have been key to their operation.
“We continue to work with partners at home such as Border Force and those abroad such as the AFP to protect the public from the Class A drugs threat.”