Mercuur ‘nets’ 400 kilos of cannabis
On Thursday 16 June, during a patrol for the Frontex border control operation in the Mediterranean, naval ship HNLMS Mercuur intercepted 400 kilos of cannabis. The two crew members of the boat, who threw the drugs overboard, were arrested by the Spanish authorities.
HNLMS Mercuur spotted the suspect boat during a patrol. The boat was travelling northwards at 30 miles from the Spanish coast. The type of ship and its direction led the Mercuur's crew to suspect that it was an illegal drug transport. When the Dutch torpedo training ship approached the boat to investigate, the crew started throwing bales overboard. The boat then left at high speed. The Mercuur’s crew immediately alerted the Spanish customs authorities, who intercepted the boat. Mercuur fished the bales of drugs out of the water and handed them over to the Spanish authorities as evidence. Thanks to these rapid actions, the receiving party on shore was also arrested.
Frontex is a European agency, established by the European Council of Ministers in 2004, for the security of Europe’s external borders. The Netherlands regularly takes part in the agency’s combined operations, for instance by deploying border control officials of the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee. The minehunters HNLMS Zierikzee and HNLMS Willemstad, and the torpedo training ship HNLMS Mercuur will be deployed on the high seas between Spain, Morocco and Algeria until 1 July. Earlier this week, the Zierikzee intercepted a total of 17 illegal immigrants who were trying to reach Spain.