Tugboat Seized with $756 Million in Drugs

Our waters see vital traffic of billions’ worth of goods from all over the world every day. The affordability, convenience and efficiency of shipping makes it the go-to transport for all types of cargo. Unfortunately, the same advantages it offers to legitimate commercial activities may also be extended to more nefarious purposes, like the transport of illicit goods and the trafficking of drugs.

The vast expanse aof oceans are hard to police completely, and so illegal substances make their way to different markets on all too many occasions. Thankfully, there are also success stories of massive busts that prevent further drug distribution. Recently, the United Kingdom facilitated one such bust—their largest A-class drug seizure, worth about £500m or $756m. Kemplon Engineering takes a closer look at the news.

Image “Stop Drugs Represents Warning Sign And Cocaine” courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The UK’s biggest drug seizure was discovered on an ocean-going tugboat in the North Sea, in a joint operation by the National Crime Agency (“NCA”), Border Force and the Royal Navy. There was a crew of nine Turkish nationals on the Ukrainian-owned vessel MV Hamal when three tonnes of cocaine – with a staggering potential street value of $756 million—was discovered following a painstaking search. The seizure is believed to be the largest class-A haul in the United Kingdom, where “class-A” drugs are defined as among the most dangerous.

Following an intelligence tip from the NCA, the tugboat MV Hamal was intercepted off the coast of Scotland by the Royal Navy’s HMS Somerset and Border Force cutter Valiant, and taken to Aberdeen harbor for a search. The Hamal had come from the Canary Islands and was registered in Tanzania.

The crew of MV Hamal, ranging in age from 26 to 63 years old, have been charged with drug trafficking. The investigation is still ongoing.

^ “Britain seizes record haul of hard drugs from tug boat traveling from Canary Isles.” The Japan Times, 01 May 2015. Web. 10 May 2015. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/01/world/crime-legal-world/britain-seizes-record-haul-hard-drugs-tug-boat-traveling-canary-isles/#.VU8kKmeSw_j
^ Hartley-Parkinson, Richard. “Royal Navy just picked up Britain’s biggest ever drugs haul.” Metro.co.uk, 30 Apr 2015. Web. 10 May 2015. http://metro.co.uk/2015/04/30/royal-navy-just-picked-up-britains-biggest-ever-drugs-haul-5175306/
^ Stone Kathryn. “Tug Seizure Marks UK’s Largest Drug Bust.” The Maritime Executive, 01 May 2015. Web. 10 May 2015. http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/tug-seizure-marks-uks-largest-drug-bust
^ Taylor, Matthew. “Cocaine worth £500m seized from ship in UK’s biggest class A haul.” The Guardian, 30 Apr 2015. Web. 10 May 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/apr/30/cocaine-500m-seized-ship-uk-biggest-class-a-haul
^ “Update: Over 3 Tons of Cocaine Found on Arrested Tug.” World Maritime News, 01 May 2015. Web. 10 May 2015. http://worldmaritimenews.com/archives/159540/update-over-3-tons-of-cocaine-found-on-arrested-tug/