Jersey

Jersey men jailed over Caribbean cocaine seizure

French customs vessels with seized yacht SY Hygeia of Halsa Image copyright PA
Image caption The yacht was boarded by the French authorities off the island of Martinique

Two men caught trying to sail a yacht loaded with 250kg of cocaine to the UK have been jailed in the Caribbean.

The yacht of David Romano, 57, and Michael Ashford, 42, both from Jersey, was boarded by the French authorities off Martinique in November.

The SY Hygeia of Halsa was found to contain a quarter of a tonne of cocaine with a street value of some £40m, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Romano received a 10-year jail sentence while Ashford got seven years.

The NCA said the men appeared before a judge at a court in Fort de France, Martinique, on Friday.

The SY Hygeia of Halsa, which had been about to embark on a transatlantic crossing, was intercepted as part of an operation involving the NCA, the Metropolitan Police and the French authorities.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The 550lb (250kg) of cocaine found on board had an estimated street value up to £40m

The action was prompted by an NCA and Met Police investigation into a London-based organised crime group believed to be involved in the large-scale importation of drugs.

Hank Cole, the NCA's head of international operations, said: "Had we not intervened, these drugs would have ended up being sold on the streets of London."

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