3.2 tonnes of cocaine, with a street value of over half a billion pounds, was seized from the MV Hamal 100 miles off the coast of Aberdeenshire last year. Although there was strong intelligence that the boat was carrying a large volume of drugs, it could not be boarded in international waters by the UK authorities without the permission of the Tanzanian government - something they had never previously granted.
The CPS's Criminal Justice Adviser in Tanzania - a criminal lawyer who provides assistance to Tanzanian prosecutors, judiciary and law-makers to increase co-operation on tackling serious organised crime - secured authority from the highest political level, to board the boat, and then search and take action in less than 24 hours.
As a result, the Royal Navy's HMS Somerset was then able to intercept the Tanzanian-registered vessel and two Turkish sailors were today sentenced, following an investigation by the National Crime Agency, to a total of 42 years imprisonment at the High Court in Glasgow in connection with the subsequent seizure.
Sue Patten, Head of CPS International Justice and Organised Crime Division, said: "Acting quickly and precisely, the CPS Criminal Justice Adviser was able get permission from the Tanzanian authorities to board the boat within 24 hours of receiving the intelligence.
"Under international maritime law the UK cannot board a vessel in international waters which is under the flag of a foreign state unless that state gives specific legal permission to do so. Without the swift actions of our Criminal Justice Adviser there was a high risk that the vessel may have escaped and we would never have been able to bring these men to justice.
"I'd also like to thank our Tanzanian partners for their understanding of the seriousness of the request and for ensuring a speedy resolution."
Her Majesty's Government has provided a specialist Criminal Justice Advisor (a criminal lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service) who provides assistance to Tanzanian prosecutors, judiciary and law makers to increase the cooperation of the UK and Tanzania to tackle serious organised crime.
It has also provided specialist UK law enforcement from the National Crime Agency to tackle serious organised crime including and the development of a Trans National Organised Crime Unit.
The UK had never previously made a request to Tanzania for permission to board a vessel. The Tanzanian authorities had never given such permission and there was a need to identify the competent authority.
The Criminal Justice Advisor has built close relationships with the Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions and the President's Office by supporting the Tanzanian authorities on joint UK-Tanzania operations in the Indian Ocean to disrupt and prosecute heroin drug traffickers through Tanzanian territorial waters. This work has been successful and led to the first ever seizure of heroin dhows from the Makram coast and subsequent prosecutions.
- Mumin Sahin - 22 years' imprisonment
- Emin Ozmen - 20 years' imprisonment
Notes to Editors