US Coast Guards, deployed from RFA Wave Knight, seizing a suspected drug trafficking vessel in international waters near South America (Picture: Royal Navy).
Navy

Royal Navy Seizes Cocaine Worth £17m In Caribbean Drugs Bust

RFA Wave Knight intercepted a suspect craft in international waters near South America and recovered more than 200kg of drugs.

US Coast Guards, deployed from RFA Wave Knight, seizing a suspected drug trafficking vessel in international waters near South America (Picture: Royal Navy).

Cocaine worth more than £17m has been seized by the Royal Navy's Caribbean Task Force less than 24 hours into the first drug patrol of their deployment.

The drug bust started after tanker RFA Wave Knight launched her Wildcat helicopter on a routine patrol.

Minutes later, the helicopter's crew reported a small craft with three people on board and large objects on deck.

After being ordered to stop by the Wildcat crew, the suspected drug-runners began throwing bales overboard.

RFA Wave Knight closed in and launched her smaller sea boat, carrying the US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET), to intercept the vessel and detain its occupants.

Despite the efforts of the suspected drug traffickers, eight bales were recovered from the sea.

After being weighed and tested, they were found to contain 216kg of cocaine with an estimated UK street value of £17.28m.

Watch: Royal Navy helped seize cocaine worth an estimated £81m in the Caribbean in September 2020.

The crew of the boat were then detained, with them now set to be handed over to US authorities.

Their vessel was also destroyed.

Captain Simon Herbert RFA, Commanding Officer of RFA Wave Knight at the time, said he was "extremely proud of the professionalism and dedication" that led to the seizing of the drugs.

"In doing so they've contributed to the reassurance and protection of UK Overseas Territories, as well as keeping these narcotics off the streets of the UK," he said.

RFA Wave Knight is deployed as part of the UK's Caribbean Task Group, working alongside patrols ship HMS Medway – the UK's permanent presence in the region.

The ship's main role is to provide support to British Overseas Territories in the event of a natural disaster.

But, the task group also works alongside regional navies, authorities and police forces, especially the US Coast Guard, to tackle criminal activity across the Caribbean. 

Last year, Royal Navy ships and helicopters in the Caribbean, working side-by-side with US authorities, seized cocaine worth almost £400m.