National Crime Agency
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More than a tonne of cocaine recovered from a vessel off the south coast of England

On Thursday, as part of a joint NCA and Border Force operation, officers from the NCA and the Border Force Maritime Command carried out a dynamic boarding of the vessel Bianca, a British registered converted fishing trawler - in UK territorial waters just south of Falmouth in Cornwall.

The officers deployed from two Border Force cutters, HMC Seeker and HMC Searcher, Two NCA and Border Force Maritime Command boarding parties boarded the vessel and discovered approximately 50 bags suspected of containing cocaine.

The Bianca was then escorted to Falmouth where a full search was carried out supported by Border Force officers from the new Cornwall Hub. The vessel was found to have more than a tonne of cocaine on board.

Mark Harding of the NCA’s Border Policing Command commented:

"A seizure on this scale is likely have a significant disruptive impact right along the supply chain, leaving criminals with large debts to be covered. And it will have knock on effects, disrupting further criminality that would have been funded by the profits of this venture."

Border Force’s Director of National Operations Mike Stepney said:

“This is one of the most significant drugs seizures ever made in the UK and a testament to the multi-agency approach we adopt to secure the UK’s border and territorial waters.

“By working closely with the NCA and our other national and international partners we were able to intercept this vessel before it could deliver its £80 million of cargo to the UK.

“This seizure is a fantastic example of the vital role our officers play in preventing drugs from reaching the UK and keeping our communities safe.”

The operation was assisted by the National Maritime Information Centre and Devon & Cornwall Police. The NCA investigation continues.

The Irish Captain, Michael McDermott (DOB 24/11/1948) and crew, Dutch National Gerald Van De Kooij (DOB 09/09/1989) and British National David Pleasants (DOB 15/06/1959), were charged with importing the cocaine and appeared at Bodmin Magistrates Court on Saturday 20th August 2016. All three have been remanded in custody until their next hearing at Bristol Crown Court on 20th September.


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