Friday, August 02, 2013

Irishman among suspected drug smugglers arrested in Canary Islands. Irish Customs involved in investigation

An Irishman, named as Kenneth C., and two Spaniards were arrested on Gran Canaria while an Australian women was apprehended on Tenerife after the seizure at sea of 500 kilos of cocaine on a yacht called 'Maid Of Orleans' bound for the Canaries. The yacht's skipper and sole occupant, a 50 years old American described as an 'old sea dog' by police, was also arrested. The gang were allegedly bringing drugs from South America first to the Cape Verde Islands for intermediate storage and then shipping smaller amounts in stages to the Canary Islands for distribution. 
Police also seized another yacht and a schooner. On the latter they found ''an authentic arsenal'' of weapons hidden in an old jukebox. The discovery of 2,6 kilos (!) of valuable jewellery and lots of gold bars leads police to believe that the gang was also involved in converting stolen gold jewellery to ingots for use in the drugs trade. Two Harley Davidson bikes and 40.000 € in cash were also seized. Police and customs had begun the well executed undercover operation more than a year ago and the investigation is ongoing. More arrests are expected to be made both internationally and in Spain.
The whole story would make a script for a movie !
The customs vessel followed the yacht in the Atlantic for a long time since 
the latter had left Brazil and when the time had come to board in mid-Atlantic, about 1600 miles south of the Canaries, the officers found they couldn't use the auxiliary launch as it was broken and they had to use a small inflatable dinghy instead - in total darkness and absolute radio silence with rough seas and a four metre swell. After they had arrested the skipper, who happened to be formerly a carpenter, they found the drugs hidden under false floors. But their problems didn't end there, because the yacht began leaking and could only be towed home very slowly, delaying the operation that much that the officers and crew ran out of food. 
They should get a reward (or at least a first class feed), as the street value of the drugs found is estimated to be over 135 million Euros.
UPDATE: It has now emerged that the Irish Customs service was involved in the investigation. Below is a quote from The Irish Times :

"...Customs officers in Cork began an investigation into the Maid of Orleans in October 2010 after their suspicions were aroused when the yacht visited Crosshaven in Cork harbour. 
Informed sources said the Customs officers became curious when they profiled the owner and made inquiries as to how he had paid for the boat, which they believed he had purchased in the UK earlier in 2010. 

The man had been on his way from Wales to Las Palmas in the Canaries when he ran into bad weather and headed for Cork. 
However, he lost steering control near Power Head in east Cork and had to be towed by Ballycotton RNLI into Crosshaven.

It was while the yacht was waiting for repairs in Crosshaven that Customs officers began their inquiries. 
On discovering that the owner was known to US drug-enforcement agencies, they began compiling a dossier on the vessel’s travel patterns. 
According to an informed source, Irish Customs officials forwarded details on the Maid of Orleans to their counterparts in the UK as well as other law enforcement agencies in Europe, triggering the investigation which led to the detention of the yacht..."

No comments :