Hampshire & Isle of Wight

HMS Lancaster sniper stops boat carrying £55m worth of cocaine

Royal Navy sniper
A Royal Navy sniper disabled the speedboat engine with a shot

Cocaine worth £55m has been seized after a Royal Navy sniper shot a hole in a speedboat engine during a high-speed pursuit.

The gunman was on board a Lynx helicopter sent to chase suspected drug runners by the Portsmouth-based HMS Lancaster warship.

The occupants were apprehended and 17 packages dumped in the sea were seized.

Mark Francois, minister of state for the armed forces, called it a "fantastic success".

He added: "We should be extremely proud of HMS Lancaster's actions in the Caribbean and efforts to disrupt the supply of illegal, life-destroying drugs.

"Their constant hard work and professionalism is a great international advert for the Royal Navy and our country."

'Cat-and-mouse'

Cdr Steve Moorhouse, HMS Lancaster's commanding officer, said: "Hopefully this bust will make those who choose to smuggle narcotics in the region think twice."

£55m drugs haul
Seventeen packages of cocaine dumped in the sea were seized

Days earlier HMS Lancaster recovered about 1.2 tonnes of marijuana, with a UK street value of £3m, from the sea during a thunderstorm.

It had been ditched from a speedboat during an "all night game of cat-and-mouse" with the navy helicopter, a spokesman said.

Those onboard were arrested by the authorities once the boat entered Costa Rican waters.

In August the warship seized a stash of cocaine worth £100m from a speedboat near Puerto Rico.

It is on patrol with the US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment as part of a multi-national effort to combat drug smuggling until the end of the year.

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