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France

Two tonnes of cocaine seized in Franco-British bust

media The tugboat was boarded by a team from the Royal Navy's HMS Somerset and Border Force cutter Valiant. DR/National Crime Agency

More than two tonnes of cocaine have been seized in the North Sea after French customs officers identified a vessel's unusual route and tipped off the Royal Navy and British coastguards, officials said Sunday.

The seizure comes less than ten days after French customs discovered 2.25 tonnes of cocaine on a sailboat near the French West Indies island of Martinique, which officials say is the largest ever cocaine seizure carried out by French authorities.

The seizures made 100km off of the east coast of Scotland Thursday "testify to the quality of international cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking and the quality of customs intelligence work," the French department said in a statement Sunday.

Nine Turkish crew members have been charged with drug trafficking and will appear before an Aberdeen court on Monday.

Officials discovered the drugs after Royal Navy warship HMS Somerset and Border Force cutter Valiant intercepted a 32-metre tugboat registered in Tanzania.

French customs had identified the ship leaving Canary Islands for northern Europe in mid-April. The boat's suspicious itinerary prompted officials to suspect that cocaine from South America had been loaded in the Canary Islands, French customs said.

In June 2011, a Franco-British operation led to the discovery of 1.2 tonnes of cocaine aboard a yacht in Southampton in southern England.

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