Sailor captures £6.4m drugs haul on camera
A CREWKERNE sailor has described his adrenaline rush as he captured on camera the dramatic moment the Royal Navy intercepted more than £6m worth of drugs in the Caribbean.
Stephen Diaper, serving on the Royal Fleet Auxillary Naval Support ship Wave Knight, dashed to grab his camera to snap the drugs bust to form part of the evidence.
Shown in these pictures, a substantial quantity of drugs had to be recovered using a crane after they were jettisoned from a fleeing boat.
Following an intense chase and take-down of the vessel carrying the massive haul, Wave Knight recovered 55 bales of marijuana.
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Although the crew were unable to recover all the jettisoned bales before they sank, the total disrupted shipment is estimated at being in the region of 4,000lb – or a tonne and three quarters – with a street value of approximately £6.4 million.
Leading Hand Diaper, a helicopter controller, was only too pleased to assist in safely delivering the marijuana to Jamaica.
The 46-year-old, who attended Wadham School in Crewkerne, said: "What an adrenaline rush – one minute I was eating dinner planning the next day's activities and the next I was at the top of the ship furiously taking as many close-up pictures as I could possibly get.
"Without these images, prosecution becomes very much harder to realise. The entire ship's company are delighted with the result and it just goes to show that if you work and train hard, you will eventually get your just reward."
A spokesman for the Royal Navy said: "Operating in the region, in support of the Royal Navy and the UK's Overseas Territories, Wave Knight was on an independent maritime security patrol when a suspicious craft was spotted and intercepted. Subsequent boarding operations, preservation of evidence and detention of 7 crew members will hopefully lead to a successful prosecution in a court of law.
"Normally operations such as these would only involve specified personnel but in this case a prize, or custody, crew was required to be placed upon the seized fishing vessel.
Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond also commended the work done by the Wave Knight team in securing the drugs.
He said: "The work of the Royal Navy across the globe and in particular in the Caribbean on counter-narcotics operations is vital to protecting us here at home.
"This drugs bust follows recent successful interdiction and deterrence operations by HMS Lancaster and HMS Argyll in the Caribbean which all contribute to ensuring illegal drugs do not reach our streets. I congratulate the ship's company for their actions in this operation."