Tug boat in big­gest drugs Ves­sel found with £512m of co­caine goes to high­est bid­der

The Press and Journal (Inverness, Highlands, and Islands) - - NEWS - BY JOANNE WARNOCK

It was one of the most no­to­ri­ous at­tempts to bring lethal drugs into the north of Scot­land. But now, the boat at the cen­tre of the UK’s big­gest drugs haul has been sold off un­der pro­ceeds of crime leg­is­la­tion.

The MV Ha­mal was searched off the coast of Aberdeen and a stag­ger­ing £512 mil­lion worth of co­caine was found hid­den on board.

It went un­der the ham­mer in an auc­tion or­gan­ised by Wil­son’s Auc­tion­eers and raised £72,000 for the na­tional pro­ceeds of crime cash fund.

The 2015 drugs seizure is be­lieved to be the big­gest sin­gle co­caine haul ever re­cov­ered at sea in Europe.

Two Turk­ish sailors were con­victed of smug­gling the record haul of co­caine aboard the diminu­tive tug boat.

Mu­min Sahin and Emin Oz­men were both jailed for at least 20 years fol­low­ing a trial af­ter three tonnes of the class A drug were dis­cov­ered in­side the MV Ha­mal, about 100 miles off the coast of Aberdeen.

Of­fi­cers boarded the Tan­za­ni­an­reg­is­tered ves­sel af­ter a tip-off from French of­fi­cials.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors drilled through a steel plate into a se­cret com­part­ment and found 128 bales of co­caine weigh­ing 3.2 tonnes, which took nearly three days to re­move.

Wil­son’s head of as­set re­cov­ery Ai­dan Larkin said they had seen the pro­ceeds of crime side of things “con­tin­u­ally grow and grow”.

He added: “The MV Ha­mal is by no means the largest as­set we have sold, but it does come with the most mem­o­rable back story. We sell on any­thing from gold bars to race horses. Our pro­ceeds of crime sales have be­come more nu­mer­ous, we now have one every two weeks, whereas they used to be one every cou­ple of months.

“I think with the leg­is­la­tion chang­ing in Scot­land, we will see more and more types of as­sets com­ing through now.

“We al­ready get hun­dreds of Rolex watches and lux­ury cars and he­li­copters can also raise a lot of in­ter­est.

“Last year, we had an auc­tion turnover of £100 mil­lion for our pro­ceeds of crime sales – but I can see that fig­ure will only keep in­creas­ing in the fu­ture.”

Ap­pli­ca­tions for the Cash­back for Com­mu­ni­ties Youth Work Fund closes at 1pm to­day. A to­tal of £700,000 is avail­able for projects be­gin­ning in April next year.

The na­tional agency co-or­di­nat­ing the fund YouthLink Scot­land is seek­ing pro­pos­als which in­clude ac­tiv­ity pro­grammes for peo­ple aged be­tween 10 and 24 who have faced some form of dis­ad­van­tage in­clud­ing un­em­ploy­ment, school ex­clu­sion, liv­ing in an area of de­pri­va­tion or at risk of be­ing in­volved in of­fend­ing or an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour.

For more in­for­ma­tion visit: www.youth­linkscot­land.org/fund­ing/ cash­back-for-com­mu­ni­ties/cash­back-for­com­mu­ni­ties-youth-work-fund/.

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