An Irish Joint Task Force (JTF) comprising members of the Revenue Customs Service, Naval Service and An Garda Síochána have implemented a co-ordinated operation at sea, which resulted in the detention of a yacht, MAKAYABELLA in the early hours of 23 September. A significant quantity of suspected controlled drugs were located onboard.
The Inter Agency operation was conducted using two naval vessels and interagency personnel, at night and in challenging conditions between 200 and 300 miles West South West of Mizen Head. The L.E. NIAMH supported by LE ROISIN positively identified a suspect vessel in a covert surveillance operation. The decision was made by the JTF situated in the Naval Operations Command Centre in Haulbowline to deploy an armed Naval boarding party, which resulted in the successful detention by Revenue’s Customs Service of the yacht, suspected contraband and the crew of three.
After Naval Service personnel secured the vessel, members of An Garda Síochána and Revenue’s Customs Service were transferred to the yacht and conducted a search of the vessel, which is currently under escort by Naval vessels to an Irish port.
The quantity and type of contraband will be reviewed once the vessel has been brought to port.
The operation was based on intelligence provided by the National Crime Agency in the UK and the French customs service DNRED via the Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC (N)) based in Lisbon.
MAOC-N is an initiative by 7 EU Member Countries: France, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal and the UK, with financial support from the Prevention against Crime Programme of the European Union, European Commission – Directorate – General Home Affairs. The Centre provides a forum for multi-lateral cooperation to suppress illicit drug trafficking by sea and air.
Press Release, September 25, 2014; Image: Irish Defence Forces