Elite Special Boat Service using fishing vessel to sneak up on drug smugglers

Special forces frogmen are using a fishing boat as cover to catch drug smugglers in UK waters.

The boat, which looks like any ordinary trawler, is crewed by Navy personnel and carries a 12-strong team from the elite Special Boat Service.

Hidden on deck is a fast interceptor craft which can be lowered over the side and out-run most super-yachts.

If needed, more boats can be airlifted to the scene on RAF Chinook helicopters.

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The trawler has been operational off Scotland, in the south west approaches and off the East Anglian coast where it can loiter unnoticed and monitor shipping.

Sources claim the trawler is already helping to cut drug imports to the UK.

One insider told us: “This operation is not a stand-alone effort – the intelligence picture is huge and collates information from the air and other maritime assets. It is very sophisticated.”

The volume of drugs smuggled into the UK has soared in the past decade.

Last year, cocaine wrapped in waterproof bags and worth around £80million washed up on beaches at Hastings and Newhaven in Sussex.

Cops think smugglers dumped the drugs over the side of a ship fearing they had been spotted.

And £300m of cocaine was seized from a 65ft cruiser at Southampton after an international operation which tracked it from the Caribbean.

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