NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Two men jailed for smuggling £512m of cocaine in tug boat

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Media captionMumin Sahin and Emin Ozmen were found guilty

Two men in charge of a boat carrying cocaine worth more than half a billion pounds have been jailed.

Mumin Sahin, 47, and Emin Ozmen, 51, from Turkey, were caught after the MV Hamal was stopped in the North Sea east of Aberdeen in April last year.

A total of 3.2 tonnes of cocaine was discovered hidden in a ballast tank at the front of the ship.

Sahin was jailed for 22 years and Ozmen for 20 years.

It was the largest-ever seizure in the UK, worth £512m.

At the High Court in Glasgow, judge Lord Kinclaven told Sahin: "Your role was a significant one, you were the master of the MV Hamal.

"You had been entrusted with a valuable asset and illicit cargo."

He told Ozmen: "You too were playing an important role in a prohibited operation".

Kayacan Dalgakirin, 54, Mustafa Guven, 48, Umit Colakel, 29, Ibrahim Dag, 48, were cleared of the allegations after the jury returned not proven verdicts.

Image copyright The National Crime Agency
Image caption Hamal was boarded by a team from the Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset and the Border Force

Three other men - Mustafa Ceviz, 55, Abdulkadir Cirik, 32, and Muhammet Seckin, 27 - were cleared earlier in the trial after the same charges were thrown out.

Prosecutors said that the boat travelled from Istanbul via Tenerife to South America then on to the North Sea.

First offenders

The raid happened after the MV Hamal was halted in international waters and brought back to Aberdeen Harbour.

It was intercepted by the Royal Navy warship HMS Somerset and Border Force officials.

Sahin was the captain of the boat. Ozmen second in command. They were first offenders.

Image copyright The National Crime Agency
Image caption It took two days to remove the cocaine from the tug

Senior investigating officer from the National Crime Agency, John McGowan, said: "The court has clearly stated that you don't have to be a kingpin of an international drug smuggling operation to incur the wrath of the court.

"These gentlemen were carrying out a vital role in the transportation of a large quantity of drugs.

"Without their skill set supplying that role of transport, international drug smuggling and trafficking could not take place."

One step ahead

David Harvie, of the Crown Office, said after the sentencing: "The international drugs trade does not respect borders, and those of us whose job it is to dismantle it are working ever-closer together to ensure we stay one step ahead.

"Scotland's reach in pursuing criminals is on a truly global scale and in this case we have dealt a substantial economic blow to organised criminals.

"The Hamal was identified after an intelligence tip-off from French authorities, and swift co-operation from the Attorney General in Tanzania where the ship was registered allowed it to be boarded.

"Our investigation then stretched from Guyana, who provided access to crucial shipping records, to Spain, who gave us crucial information on the ship's stop-offs in the Canary Islands.

"We also worked with colleagues in Denmark, Norway and the United States to piece specific elements of the evidence together."

Image copyright NCA
Image caption The drugs were worth more than £500m

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