Portuguese officials made one of Europe’s biggest drugs busts in recent years this week, seizing $232 million worth of cocaine from a yacht in the Atlantic Ocean.
An estimated 5.2 tonnes of the class A substance were discovered on the 79-foot vessel on Sunday, October 17, in what Portuguese police said was the country’s largest haul in 15 years.
With assistance from the country’s navy and air force, the police were able to recover 183 bales of cocaine, with three men arrested in connection with the shipment, which is believed to be part of a major drugs pipeline between South America and Europe.
Operation White Tide also involved officials from a number of international agencies, including the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the UK’s National Crime Agency.
In a statement reported by Reuters Portugal’s chief of police Luis Neves said:
We are always expecting [more drug trafficking] and this is the message we want to send organizations: We are waiting for you
Those who have to fall will fall because this amount of drugs is an immense fortune and a huge blow for criminal groups.
Neves added that the seizure was the largest amount ever discovered on board a sailboat, with drug smuggling typically involving cargo ships or larger vessels. The boat in question was successfully intercepted more than 550 miles off the coast of Portugal.
‘As a message to the criminal organizations, we usually are a bit behind you but with time, patience, method and technology, we will relentlessly fight organised crime,’ he said, per AP News.
Two of the men arrested in connection with the bust are Spanish nationals, with the third understood to be Peruvian.
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