Royal Navy sets fire to boat carrying £24m of cocaine in Caribbean
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A Royal Navy ship torched a smugglers' boat carrying £24 million worth of cocaine, saying it used the vessel as target practice.
HMS Medway, an offshore patrol vessel based in the Caribbean, seized 400kg of drugs after spotting the boat near the Dominican Republic alongside the US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment and an accompanying aircraft.
As well as seizing the contraband, believed to be worth £24 million had it reached the UK and been sold at street value, three people on board were detained by authorities as part of the overnight mission.
After the drugs and crew members were captured, HMS Medway's gunnery team used the vessel as target practice, with dramatic images showing the boat in flames after it had been hit.
It's believed the boat had departed from South America and was following a known drug smuggling route.
Commander Chris Hollingworth of HMS Medway said: "Everyone involved demonstrated their professionalism during a challenging pursuit.
"It might be the first, but we're going to make sure that it won't be the last, and I speak on behalf of everyone here in saying this has galvanised our determination to succeed.
"Together with our partners on board Medway and up in the skies above us, we're able to smash a hole in the supply chain and disrupt the movement of these harmful drugs before they have the chance to harm people at home and abroad.
"I'm exceptionally proud of the collective effort of my ship's company and our colleagues from the US Coast Guard for their proactive attitude and total commitment to the task."
Navy Lookout shared the news on Twitter, posting the images while writing: "@HMS_Medway intercepted a boat carrying cocaine worth around £24M while on patrol off the Dominican Republic.
"Boarding party recovered the cargo and detained three crew. Boat subsequently used for target practice and destroyed."
Warships International Fleet Review magazine added: "Blimey, some dramatic imagery released by the Royal Navy of an incident in which HMS Medway and US Coast Guard boarding team seized more than 400kg of cocaine."
Earlier this month, the Royal Navy pulled off a record-breaking drugs haul of crystal meth - which had a staggering £15.5 million street value.
In its fifth drugs bust this year, HMS Montrose was tracking a suspicious looking dhow - a type of sailing vessel - in the Arabian Sea with its Wildcat helicopter.
Suspecting narcotics were stashed on the ship, the Navy leaped into action and seized control of the vessel in choppy waters.
The six-hour operation saw officers uncover a secret compartment in which they discovered 870kg of crystal meth.
The bust comprehensively smashed the Navy’s previous record, which was set in 2019 by HMS Defender when it confiscated £3.3 million worth of crystal meth, also in the Arabian Sea.