Azores - four Europeans arrested after 840 kilos of cocaine found on catamaran

cocaineA huge shipment of cocaine has been intercepted off the Azores by the Portuguese Police with the help of the Air Force which tracked the catamaran without being seen.

The drugs boat was taken to the marina in the town of Horta, on the island of Faial, where it was searched and the concealed drugs were found.

On board were 840 kilograms of cocaine, valued at almost €36 million, hidden in five compartments of the vessel that had left the Caribbean and was heading for Europe.

The catamaran was under a French flag but the Police have not let known the nationalities of the two men and two women aboard but we do know they all are Europeans.

Artur Vaz, director of Unidade Nacional de Combate ao Tráfico de Estupefacientes, said this "important seizure off the Azores archipelago was effected with the collaboration of the Portuguese Air Force, Navy and the Maritime Analysis and Operations Center for Narcotics -an international agency based in Lisbon that coordinates the fight against drug trafficking in seven European countries."

The operation to intercept the drugs boat required a fast coastal boat packed with well armed Maritime Police from Horta, Azores.

Prior to closing in on the suspicious catamaran, its path was being tracked by an Air Force aircraft which stayed out of sight, using electronics to follow progress.

The detainees are between the ages of 21 and 36 and offered no resistance when the catamaran was hauled over and boarded.

Artur Vaz said the catamaran had sailed from the Caribbean but the cocaine would have come from Colombia, Bolivia or Peru - noting that drug traffickers use the Caribbean as a staging point before onward shipping to the US and European markets.

According to the District Attorney General's website, the four drug smugglers will be held in jail until trial, due to the size of the haul and the danger that they might well escape if not safely locked up.

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