Irish military forces raided the Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier M/V Matthew on Tuesday and discovered a “significant quantity” of illegal narcotics, believed to be cocaine.
The raid was conducted early Tuesday morning off the coast of Cork.
The Irish Defence Forces said that the ship had been tracked for several days after traveling from South America. The Irish Navy patrol vessel LÉ William Butler Yeats fired warning shots in the ship’s direction before forces stormed the ship by helicopter, apparently as the vessel tried to evade authorities.
The Matthew was escorted to a naval base at Marino Point in Cork Harbour. AIS ship tracking data shows the ship was traveling from Willemstad, Curaçao.
BBC is reporting that police have arrested three people and the raid may be related to the grounding of a trawler on Sunday. The Daily Mail is reporting that investigators believe the M/V Matthew may have been used as a “mother ship” to transport cocaine to Ireland. Once off the coast, the vessel would transfer the drugs to smaller boats which would then smuggle them into Europe.
“This operation demonstrated the importance of all services of the Defence Forces and their ability to operate in the most challenging of conditions,” said Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Seán Clancy.
Officials later confirmed the seizure involved 2,253 kg (4,967 pounds) of cocaine worth an estimated 157 million euros ($166 million).
Equassis data shows Matthew is owned by a one-ship company based in the Marshall Islands and changed hands as recently as August 10th.
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