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Two sailboats loaded with more than 1,100 kilos of cocaine intercepted in waters west of the Canary Islands

Operation of the Tax Agency, Civil Guard and National Police

  • The two vessels were boarded by the Special Operations Vessel 'Fulmar' of the Customs Surveillance Service.

8 March 2023.- The Tax Agency, as part of a joint operation with the Guardia Civil and the National Police, has intercepted a sailing boat, named 'My Love', carrying a load of cocaine in waters to the west of the Canary Islands.Following the boarding by the Special Operations Vessel 'Fulmar' of the Tax Agency's Customs Surveillance Service, the two crew members, both Spanish nationals, were arrested.

The crew and the sailboat have been taken to the port of Tenerife to be brought before the courts.In the framework of another investigation, a second sailing boat was boarded, also carrying drugs, bringing the total amount seized on the two boats to more than 1,100 kilos of cocaine.

Within the framework of the surveillance and prevention actions that are usually carried out, and through the international communication system between MAOC-N and CITCO, information was received from the US DEA, with the collaboration of the British NCA, indicating that a sailboat called 'My Love' could be close to the position of the vessel 'Fulmar'. As a result of the above, the Customs Surveillance Service patrol boat was instructed to head towards the vessel, which was located and boarded on the afternoon of 3 March, some 350 miles from Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

On the Belgian-flagged vessel 'My Love', it could be seen at a glance that it was carrying an undetermined quantity of bales of the type commonly used for the transport of cocaine.With the authorisation of the Belgian authorities, the sailboat was boarded, the cocaine on board was seized and the two crew members, both Spanish nationals, were arrested.This operation has been directed and coordinated by the Anti-Drug Prosecutor's Office of the Audiencia Nacional and the Central Court of Instruction number 5 of the Audiencia Nacional.

Boarding and towing difficulties

It so happens that the vessel 'Fulmar' was involved in another operation that had previously involved a first sailing boat also carrying cocaine, which was being towed to the Canary Islands as part of a joint investigation by the three police forces, an action that is still ongoing.

The conditions of both raids were very complicated, due, in the first case, to the sea situation, and in the second, to the handicap of towing the first sailboat involved, which made the manoeuvres much more difficult.

Despite this, the swift action and experience of the VAS officers involved prevented any incidents from occurring and ensured the success of the operation on one of the rare occasions when a double intervention is carried out in the same naval operation.

The detainees, as well as the boats, the drugs and the police files will be handed over to the judicial authorities.These operations are two more of the operations carried out by drug law enforcement officers on the so-called 'Atlantic cocaine route', known to be used by fishing boats, merchant ships and, as in this case, sailing vessels from South America that intend to bring the drug to the European continent.

Film of the operation (go to the following website to download the video):