Agents with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration recently assisted European authorities to seize a sailboat loaded with nearly 2 tons of cocaine worth $77 million off the coast of Portugal.
Photo: Joe Burbank/Associated Press
Photo: Joe Burbank/Associated Press

Boat carrying $77 million in cocaine seized during fierce storm in Atlantic

A sailboat carrying nearly 2 tons of cocaine with a street value of $77 million was seized in the Atlantic Ocean during an intense storm off the coast of Portugal, law enforcement authorities announced Monday. 

Two men, ages 51 and 53, were arrested and jailed. Both suspects are not believed to be Portuguese citizens and are next expected to appear in court later Monday, reports said. 

No other details about their identities were given. 

The bust capped a two-week international investigation known as Operation Gloria, which was led by Portuguese police with assistance from drug enforcement agencies in six countries, including the United States. 

According to reports, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency joined forces with the British National Crime Agency, French and Spanish law enforcement and Portugal's Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre-Narcotics. 

Their combined intelligence led to the tracking of a boat from South America suspected of smuggling narcotics into Europe. 

Portuguese police identified the suspect vessel traveling in “very difficult weather conditions,” reports said. That's when agents intercepted and boarded the craft as it neared the Portuguese shore, Newsweek reported. 

“In the course of this operation in the middle of rough weather in the Atlantic Ocean, the [Portuguese Judicial Police] located and then intercepted a sailboat that was being used to transport 1,820 kg of cocaine," a spokesperson said, according to reports by Newsweek. 

The waters around the Iberian Peninsula have become a popular smuggling route for Brazilian traffickers, reports said. 

In May 2019, a fishing boat from Brazil was seized off the coast of Cape Verde while carrying more than 1,000 kilograms of cocaine, according to the Portugal News.

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