A huge haul of well over 600kgs of cocaine will never reach the streets of the UK after a major bust by Royal Navy warship HMS Lancaster.

Crews from the Royal Navy warship HMS Lancaster observe as the smuggler’s boat burns in the background. The HMS Lancaster is on patrol with a team from the US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment as part of a multi-national effort to combat drug smuggling in the Caribbean. Photo: Royal Navy

By Rachel Savage

Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) –The U.K. Royal Navy recorded its biggest seizure of illegal drugs in four years in an operation near Puerto Rico.

The Royal Navy confiscated cocaine with an estimated street value of 100 million pounds ($155.2 million) from a speedboat earlier this week, Damien Elvin, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in London, said in a phone interview. The date of the operation has yet to be disclosed, he said.

A Lynx helicopter from the HMS Lancaster and a high-speed pursuit boat intercepted the 30-foot vessel and three suspected smugglers after a U.S. Customs and Border Agency aircraft spotted the boat in the Caribbean Sea off the U.S. territory.

Royal Navy divers recovered the 1,499 pound stash after the three men threw it overboard. The men were handed over to Puerto Rican authorities and the boat sunk by Royal Navy gunfire as per standard practice, according to an e-mailed statement today from the ministry.

“It is an amazing feeling to get such a great bust and stop millions of pounds worth of cocaine hitting the streets,” said Able Seaman James Duffy, coxswain of one of Lancaster’s Sea Boats, according to the ministry statement.

The U.S. Coast Guard has seized 45,200 pounds of cocaine and 8,500 pounds of marijuana during 22 operations in the past year, according to the U.K. ministry.

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

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