NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

£500m drugs bust in North Sea 'UK's biggest ever'

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Media captionThe cocaine was found on a tug boat

Cocaine seized from a tug in the North Sea could have been worth more than £500m - believed to be the biggest single class A seizure in the UK.

The Tanzanian-registered Hamal was intercepted by the Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset and the Border Force cutter Valiant about 100 miles east of Aberdeen on 23 April.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said more than three tonnes of cocaine had now been recovered.

Nine men have appeared in court.

The vessel was taken to Aberdeen harbour where a search began, led by Border Force officers.

'Massive discovery'

John McGowan, senior investigating officer for the NCA, said: "The search of this vessel has been lengthy and painstaking, undertaken by hugely skilled specialists working in difficult conditions.

"The result is this massive discovery - believed to be the biggest single class A drug seizure on record in the UK, and likely to be worth several hundred million pounds.

"Our investigation continues, but the operation was only possible thanks to the close co-operation between the NCA, Border Force, the Royal Navy, plus the French DNRED and our other international partners. The extensive operation in Aberdeen was given substantial support from Police Scotland."

Image copyright NAtional Crime Agency
Image copyright NAtional crime agency
Image copyright NAtional Crime Agency

Nine men, all Turkish nationals aged between 26 and 63, have been charged with drug trafficking offences over the estimated £500m ($770m) haul.

They appeared at Aberdeen Sheriff Court on Monday where they were remanded in custody, until their next expected appearance on Tuesday 5 May.

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