THANKS have gone to those who prevented a huge haul of cocaine, worth £160 million, from being dropped off in waters off the Isle of Wight.

The plan was to float 200 packages of cocaine in cargo nets held up by more than 100 life jackets when the 80 tonne boat Kahu reached the shipping lane off the Isle of Wight.

As reported earlier, drug smuggler Andrew Cole was today jailed for 18 years for his role in the operation. Cole, 33, of Newton Road, Stockton-on-Tees, admitted arranging the carriage of controlled goods.

This afternoon, Gavin Heckles, National Crime Agency operations manager, said: “This was a huge haul of cocaine, which we and our law enforcement partners have prevented coming into the UK drugs market and being sold across UK communities, where it would have fuelled more crime.

“We thanks colleagues from Border Force and Australian Federal Police who were both key in seizing these drugs and the jailing of Andrew Cole.”

On September 9, 2021, Border Force Maritime Command’s 42m cutter Searcher and 19m coastal patrol vessel Alert covertly identified and monitored the Kahu’s movements.

In international waters north of Guernsey, specialist highly-skilled NCA and Border Force officers carried out a difficult interception and boarding of the Kahu.

It prevented the drugs being dropped off in Isle of Wight waters as planned.