The detained crew members being led off a Naval frigate in Funchal

Operation “Tempestade” ends with almost a ton of cocaine at bottom of sea

PJ judicial police “Operation Tempestade” (Tempest) ended on Thursday with almost a ton of cocaine at the bottom of the ocean, 150 miles south of Madeira.

The plan had been to intercept the yacht carrying the drugs on the high seas, but “due to the adverse meteorological conditions” it morphed into a rescue of the three crew members on board, with very limited success when it came to recovery of the drugs.

Correio da Manhã explains that “only a few packages” were salvaged, along with other “elements of proof”.

“We believe the yacht was carrying a ton of cocaine”, António Madureira, PJ coordinator from the force’s ‘diretoria do Sul’ told the paper. “A significant amount went to the bottom (of the sea) because our concern was the rescue of the crew”.

The operation, which began days previously, was aided by both the Navy and Air Force.

Says CM, there are no plans to recover either the sunken yacht or the drugs.

The crew members meantime have appeared before a magistrate in Funchal, and were remanded in custody pending trial for the crime of suspected drug trafficking.

The trio, all in their late 20s, are described as Russians.

The boat, identified as the Taeping Uuras,, had set out from a country in South America, says CM. PJ police believe it was bound for Portugal, with the drugs then due to be transported by road into Europe.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com