Five British men have been arrested after a tonne of cocaine was discovered on a yacht sailing from the Caribbean to Europe.

Image showing seized cocaine from sailing yacht.Three crew members – aged 46, 70 and 29 – were arrested when their vessel SY Windwhisper was interdicted in the mid-Atlantic by the Spanish Customs Service on the 13 June 2021, as part of a joint investigation between the National Crime Agency and the Spanish National Police.

Two other men linked to the vessel – aged 38 and 41 – were also arrested by Spanish officers in the Costa del Sol.

All five have been remanded in custody on drugs trafficking offences.

The arrests are linked to an ongoing investigation into international drug trafficking that has so far resulted in the arrest of a number of individuals in Spain, and the seizure of 1.6 tonnes of hashish, 45,000 Euros and four sailing vessels.

The British head of the OCG – a former Royal Navy officer living in Southern Spain – was among those previously arrested.

Known to law enforcement agencies for his links to organised crime groups in the UK and Ukraine, officers believe he trained the crew and ran several companies engaged in buying, selling and renting sailing vessels that were subsequently used to conduct drugs transportations.

Dave Hucker, Head of European Operations for NCA International said:

“This is a huge haul of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than £80million. I have no doubt the drugs on board were destined for the streets of the UK, so this seizure is a significant result.

“We know that the criminal trade in drugs is driven by financial gain, and the loss of the profit that would have been made from these drugs will have a major impact on the crime groups involved.

“We continue to work with our international law enforcement partners to identify those responsible for supplying class A drugs to the UK, and will do all we can to disrupt their supply chains”.

Over the last 12 months, the NCA has been involved in the seizure, forfeiting or restraining more than £112m and 145 tonnes of drugs globally.

24 June 2021