A NORTH East man is among six people charged after a dramatic anti-drug trafficking operation at sea – in which more than two tonnes of cocaine worth around £160m was seized from on board a luxury yacht.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) said the suspects have been charged with drug trafficking offences over the seizure, which was made 80 miles off the coast of Plymouth on Thursday evening and is estimated to be worth around £160 million.
Andrew Cole, 32, from Stockton-on-Tees, will appear at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court on Monday alongside Nicaraguan nationals Billy Downs, 49, Denson White-Morales, 34, Edwin Taylor-Morgan, 40, Brynie Sjogreen, 38 and Ryan Taylor, 42.
The NCA said the operation involved its personnel as well as the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Border Force.
Border Force Maritime Command’s 42-metre cutter Searcher and 19-metre coastal patrol vessel Alert had covertly identified and monitored luxury yacht Kahu’s movements.
Kahu, which was sailing from the Caribbean, was intercepted and boarded by specialist Border Force and NCA officers in international waters north of Guernsey before being escorted back to an undisclosed location on the UK mainland.