A Royal Marine sniper blasted a speedboat carrying £40million ($70m) of cocaine after a dramatic six-hour chase across the Caribbean. Navy ship Wave Knight launched a Lynx helicopter to fire shots at the traffickers during a daring operation in the middle of the sea.
They ignored the shots, forcing a sniper in the back of the helicopter to shoot out the engines of the speedboat and stopping the cocaine reaching its destination. The dramatic mission was captured on camera. Photographs showed the marine firing the shot from the sky as the traffickers watched from below.
A Ministry of Defence statement said: "Royal Fleet Auxiliary Wave Knight concluded a dramatic six hour chase across the Caribbean, by shooting out the engines of a go-fast speedboat. More than £40m of cocaine never reached its destination. The successful bust was sparked by a maritime patrol aircraft sighting the go-fast and directing RFA Wave Knight to intercept. She responded by bearing down on the speedboat - and launching her helicopter, which no boat could outrun."
A spokesman said the sniper in the back a Lynx helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron "first fired warning shots ahead of the go-fast calling on the traffickers to stop and then. When they ignored those shots, took out the boat's engines bringing it to a halt," he said.
Once the boat's engines brought it to a halt, a specialist team of US coast guards boarded the craft and recovered 14 bales of illegal narcotics. Tests revealed it to be 350kg of cocaine with a wholesale value on the streets of more than £14m ($24m) had those drugs reached the UK.
Before the boarding team reached the vessel, the traffickers threw several bales overboard. US authorities assessed 650kg of cocaine worth around £26m ($42m) was abandoned. The go-fast itself subsequently sank. In total, fourteen bales of illegal drugs were captured in a combined operation by the Royal Navy, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and US Coast Guard in waters between Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
The five crew of the go-fast plus the haul of drugs were later transferred to the US Coast Guard cutter Richard Etheridge and handed over to authorities in Miami Beach. Mike Penning MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, said: "This high-speed intervention shows how the Royal Fleet Auxiliary and Royal Navy are making a difference around the world to tackle threats wherever they occur."
Captain Nigel Budd, Wave Knight's Commanding Officer said: "This seizure highlights how effectively the US Coast Guard, we and our allies are working together to disrupt and dismantle the criminal networks that depend on the flow of illicit drugs from South America into the United States, the Caribbean, and Europe."
New Zealand Herald/Nov. 11, 2016
Photo: New Zealand Herald
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