Smugglers Toss 2.5 Tons of Cocaine Overboard to Escape Royal Navy Pursuit

HMS Trent
Royal Navy captured 2.5 tons of cocaine jettisoned during chase (Royal Navy photos)

Published May 6, 2024 5:12 PM by The Maritime Executive


The latest interdiction in the Caribbean by the Royal Navy’s patrol ship HMS Trent sounds like a scene from a motion picture. The vessel, which was commissioned in 2020 and was on a regular patrol of the Caribbean, reported that as night was falling, they conducted a high-speed chase with its seaboats to pounce on smugglers in a go-fast boat.

They reported that the go-fast boat with the smugglers was hopelessly weighted down and, to evade capture, the smugglers were jettisoning bale after bale of cocaine from the boat. The boat accelerated to nearly 50 mph with the Royal Navy reporting the “sheer amount of cargo left behind became apparent.”

The smugglers must have ditched all their cargo the interdiction team believes in its effort to escape. While they got away, the sheer amount of cocaine left behind was staggering to the Royal Navy crew. 



“Every direction we looked in, there were cocaine bales, we knew this was a big haul,” said one of the Royal Marines on the team. The vessel has 47 Commando coxswains aboard working with an embarked U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.

HMS Trent had been alerted to the potential smugglers by the United States maritime patrol aircraft. The Royal Navy vessel used its radar to track down a go-fast boat matching the determined course and speed of smugglers. 

“Considering the time-lapse from the previous night’s chase, we were able to factor in the drift and calculate the area where the bales should be,” explained HMS Trent’s First Lieutenant. “We calculated right, the lookouts did a superb job picking out the bales against the wider ocean.”



The recovery operation went on through the night and eventually 2,548 kg of cocaine was recovered back to the Trent. The Royal Navy calculates it stopped £204 million ($256 million) of cocaine during the night-time pursuit in the Caribbean.

HMS Trent is deployed as part of a multinational effort to stem the flow of drugs being smuggled to Europe and America. Across five months of operations, the Royal Navy reports the ship has seized 6,390 kg of drugs worth £511 million ($640 million).