<DIV =smallfont>Royal navy seizes £200m coke; snipers shoot out speedboat engines </DIV></TD>
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<DIV id=post_message_3595508>The Sun
1 November 2005
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<TD =alt2 style="BORDER-RIGHT: 1px inset; BORDER-TOP: 1px inset; BORDER-LEFT: 1px inset; BORDER-BOTTOM: 1px inset">By TOM NEWTON DUNN
Four smugglers tried to OUTRUN a 200mph Lynx helicopter after they were rumbled in Caribbean waters patrolled by the frigate HMS Cumberland.
But two specialist Marine snipers on the chopper fired at the high-speed boat’s four engines — and knocked out each one.
The incredible shots from 100 metres followed six hours of nerve-jangling drama.
HMS Cumberland had rushed to intercept the traffickers after a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Agency.
She got within range 100 miles off the coast of Nicaragua with her support vessel, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Wave Knight, in tow.
The smaller ship sent up its Lynx chopper with the expert team on board.
But the smugglers — careering along in a vessel dubbed a “go-fast” by the Navy — refused to stop despite repeated appeals.
It was only after they were nearing land and looked like escaping that shots were fired — leaving them bobbing in the water.
The chopper then hovered overhead as the Marines kept their devastating 0.5 inch AW50 rifles trained on them.
Cumberland arrived an hour later and sent out Marines in two inflatables to arrest the smugglers, who meekly held up their hands.
Last night top brass heaped praise on the operation — and the commando snipers.
Marine Lt Col Andy Price, of Fleet Command in Portsmouth, said: “This type of shooting is unparalleled. It’s the ultimate professional shot.
“To hit that small target in rough seas from a moving platform and miss everyone else on the boat is formidable.
“These guys are highly trained and we are very proud of what they have done.”
Two tonnes of coke wrapped in dozens of tightly-bound bales were found on the boat.
It was destined for the streets of Britain and America.
The smugglers, all South American, were handed over to the US Coastguard, who supported Saturday’s operation.
One British government official said: “This bust will really hack off the cartel bosses.
“It’s going to affect supply on the street all over the US and Europe for some time.”
Delighted Defence Secretary John Reid said yesterday: “This is a great success for the Royal Navy.
“Drugs are a scourge of civilised society, crippling the lives of millions.
“For that reason, I pay tribute to the crew of HMS Cumberland, whose professionalism and commitment to the task has dealt a sledgehammer blow to the drug traffickers.”
The Type 22 frigate, based at Devonport, is on a four-month patrol in the Caribbean. It is there to give humanitarian aid and disaster relief assistance if needed.
But it also has a role in counter narcotic operations.
Skipper Captain Simon Ancona said modestly: “The operation was a success and I am pleased HMS Cumberland is involved in the international fight against drugs.
“Operations like these send a strong message that governments, agencies and armed forces worldwide will work together in a determined effort to counter drug running.” </TD></TR></T></TABLE></DIV>