“The National Maritime Authority, the Portuguese Navy and the Portuguese Air Force, carried out a joint operation yesterday afternoon [Thursday] in international waters south of Portugal, which resulted in the seizure of two high-speed vessels and the identification of seven individuals, five of Moroccan nationality and two of Spanish nationality”, say the authorities in a statement.

According to the note, a Portuguese Air Force aircraft first detected two suspicious vessels, and then found that they did not have the respective identification (name and flag).

These steps led to the seizure of the boats, which contained 58 empty cans to store fuel, and the transport of their crew to the port closest to the place where the operation took place, for identification.

The statement reports that the approach to the vessels was carried out by two vessels, also at high speed, one from the Maritime Police, and another from the Portuguese Navy, operated by Marines.

“As a precautionary measure, the seven individuals were transported to Faro for further identification, as well as the vessels were seized, and the Public Ministry was contacted for further steps” concludes the note.

According to information sent to Lusa, until last week, 20.20 tons of narcotics had been seized since the beginning of the year, surpassing, in less than three months, the total number of drugs seized by the Maritime Police and the Navy throughout 2022, year in which 16.52 tons of drugs were seized, mainly hashish and cocaine.

The drug seized in the first months of this year exceeds the total of the previous year by almost four tons and represents four times more than the amount of narcotics seized in 2021, when only 5.14 tons were seized.

The fight against drug trafficking has also been visible in the seizure of high-speed boats, with the National Maritime Authority advancing that 13 speedboats have already been seized in the first months of 2023, almost as many as the 15 that the Maritime Police (in collaboration with the Navy) seized during 2022.

Most actions to combat drug trafficking have taken place in the south of mainland Portugal.