The coast guard keeps an eye on the sea

Coast guard

International cooperation during drug smuggle at the North Sea

At the beginning of December 2013, the Dutch Hit and Run Cargo Team Rotterdam and the public prosecutor’s office organised an action against a drug smuggling operation by ship in the North Sea. The help of the Dutch Coast Guard was needed: the Royal Navy, a police helicopter and a police team specialised in arrests at sea, were mobilised.

There were indications that a load of cocaine would be dropped from a container ship, and then it would be taken out of the water by accomplices in small boats (“drop off”). The ship sailed through Belgian waters, but because of the bad weather, the drop off could not take place. While the ship was heading to the Netherlands, the weather conditions allowed the crime and a large amount of cocaine was thrown overboard. A rapid small boat was forced to stop and the suspects were arrested in the Netherlands.

After the drop off, the risk existed that the packages would drift towards Belgian waters. Since our Dutch colleagues do not have authorisation to work in our waters, various Belgian Coast Belgian Coast Guard partners were mobilised. The Maritime Security Centre Belgium (MIK) followed all ship movements and ensured the necessary communication. The surveillance aircraft OO-MMM, the Navy ship Stern, the Defence’s Alouette III helicopter, the Seaking and the patrol boat of the federal Maritime Police, kept a close eye on the area.

Thanks to the attentiveness of these different partners and the OSERIT drift model, the packages of cocaine could be localised perfectly and several hundreds of kilos of drugs were recovered and destroyed by our Dutch colleagues.