Five arrested after Defence Forces track catamaran holding 'significant quantity of cocaine' in international operation

The Irish Defence Forces have taken part in an international operation that has led to a major cocaine seizure off the English coast.

At least 500kg of cocaine have been seized and five men have been arrested.

The Irish Defence Forces were alerted about the suspected drug trafficking vessel, based on intelligence from the Maritime Analysis Operations Centre in Portugal.

A Naval Service vessel and an Air Corps Maritime Patrol aircraft tracked the yacht 'Nomad' as it sailed through Irish waters off the south coast.

As it approached the coast of Cornwall it was intercepted by a UK Border Force vessel, and escorted to shore.

The UK's National Crime Agency has issued images of cocaine parcels hidden in the hold of the catamaran yacht, and further searches of the vessel are planned.

Five men have been arrested for drug trafficking offences and are being questioned by detectives in the UK.

The operation comes six weeks after hundreds of parcels stuffed with drugs were discovered on a yacht taken to the same port.

"As part of a National Crime Agency-led operation, the Border Force cutter HMC Vigilant intercepted a catamaran off the south-west coast of Cornwall and escorted the vessel into Newlyn harbour on Thursday morning," a spokesman for the NCA said.

"The investigation is ongoing and a significant quantity of cocaine has been removed from the boat.

"National Crime Agency and Border Force officers, supported by Devon and Cornwall Police, remain at the scene as searches continue.

"Five men have been arrested for drug trafficking offences and are now being questioned by National Crime Agency officers."

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