IRELAND - Three men from the north of England were arrested last night following the seizure of an estimated €88m of cocaine on a yacht during an operation which bears a striking resemblance to a drugs interception in 2008. The yacht, Marayabella, had been tracked by security services across the Atlantic since leaving Venezuela several weeks ago packed with 1,100 kilos of cocaine.
She was intercepted by the LÉ Niamh and LÉ Roisín 500km south-west of Mizen Head during the early hours of Tuesday morning by armed boarding parties and was towed into the Naval Service headquarters at Haulbowline. The ship docked after 11pm last night. Security sources believe the men intended to land the cocaine somewhere in West Cork before transporting it to Britain.
Six years ago Operation Seabight led to the boarding of the yacht Dances With Waves 211km off Mizen Head. Its cargo of €600m of cocaine had also been loaded in Venezuela and she was also intercepted by the two ships involved in the latest operation. Similarly she was crewed by three British men — Philip Doo, David Mufford and Christopher Wiggins — who were acting on the orders of mastermind John Alan Brooks who was later jailed for 28 years in Britain for his role in the cocaine shipment.
It is possible the three men arrested last night were also once part of Brooks’ gang. Marayabella was also tracked by satellite across the Atlantic by the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre based in Lisbon. Manned by customs, police and military personnel from seven EU states, including Ireland, the centre was set up in 2007 to help intercept vessels trafficking drugs across the Atlantic.
To date, it has helped seize more than 80 vessels and in excess of 81 tonnes of cocaine. The LÉ Niamh left port last week to shadow the yacht as she approached Irish waters, and LÉ Roisín joined the mission on Monday. The operation was conducted by the Joint Task Force comprising the Revenue Customs Service, Naval Service and gardaí.
The Irish Examiner/Sept. 25, 2014