Boat fire destroys 5 tons of cocaine

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SEPT. 18 — Five tons of cocaine worth about $1 billion was destroyed last week in a boat fire after the British Royal Navy stopped drug smugglers in the Caribbean off Barbados.

Acting on a tip, the crew of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Wave Runner followed a “suspicious” vessel for several miles at night before pulling alongside and startling the crew with its searchlights, England’s Daily Mail newspaper reported. The smugglers set fire to the boat and were later pulled from the water by the Wave Runner crew.

“This has been a highly successful operation against those who profit from the illegal drugs trade,” Wave Runner’s commanding officer, Capt. William Tait, says in the report. “The removal of this cocaine from the system will be a serious blow to the traffickers and prevent drugs from reaching the streets, where they cause misery and crime.”

Although most of the cocaine was destroyed in the fire Royal Navy authorities were able to confiscate about $122,000 worth, the report says. In February, British authorities in the Caribbean seized 3.5 tons of cocaine from a cargo ship.

— Jason Fell