NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Major security as massive cocaine haul shown to jurors

Police at barrier created at court

A major security operation has been mounted at a Glasgow court to allow jurors to view 129 bales of cocaine.

The street outside the High Court was barricaded off to allow the drugs to be transported by police.

The haul was found on MV Hamal, a tug suspected of being used for international drug smuggling.

UK Border Force officers, with Royal Navy support, boarded the tug in an operation about 100 miles east of Aberdeen in April last year.

Border Force Force officer Lee Butler told the court that he and other members of a specialist "deep rummage" team searched the tug after it was taken to Aberdeen Harbour.

The court was told the 129 bales of drugs were found behind a welded plate in a forward ballast tank and in an area accessed by a hatch in a cabin.

In a highly unusual move, cocaine was brought under tight security to the High Court for the jury to view.

Inside the court building, a secure area was set up in the corridor to allow jurors to view the drugs and their labels.

The stacked bales of cocaine covered an area measuring 12ft by 10ft (3.6m by 3m) and 4ft (1.2m) high.

Each bale was individually sealed in plastic evidence bags. They were later taken back to a secret location.

No resistance

Earlier Martin Pownall of the Border Force described how the tug was boarded at sea.

He said the boarding crew met no resistance from the crew of MV Hamal.

The nine-strong Turkish crew are on trial accused of smuggling cocaine from Istanbul via Tenerife to South America, and then to the North Sea between February and April 2015.

They are further alleged to have been concerned in the supply of the class A drug between 21 and 23 April.

Kayacan Dalgakiran, 64, Mustafa Guven, 48, Mustafa Ceviz, 55, Umit Colakel, 39, Ibrahim Dag, 48, Mumin Sahin, 46, Emin Ozmen, 51, Abdulkadir Cirik, 32, and Muhammet Seckin, 27, deny the charges against them.

The trial before Lord Kinclaven continues.

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