A MASSIVE haul of cocaine worth £30 million has been discovered hidden on a ship moored off the Scottish coast.
Police found 108kg (240lbs) of the class-A drug in the rudder area of the Cape Maria, which had sailed from Colombia and was anchored just under three miles from Largs, Ayrshire.
Three men, all Dutch nationals, were arrested while staying at a nearby hotel, police said.
Border Force agents, the National Crime Agency, Police Scotland and Dutch authorities swooped at the Seamill Hydro Hotel in Ayrshire in connection with the find.
They also seized diving equipment, a rigid inflatable boat and an underwater “scooter” at the hotel.
The ship had been waiting for a berth at Hunterston when authorities launched the operation on Friday. It had set sail from Puerto Nuevo in Colombia on 15 April, loaded with a legitimate cargo of coal.
But the captain and crew were met by Border Force agents, who instructed them to weigh anchor and prepare for the vessel to be searched.
A team of police divers were on standby as officials prepared to comb the ship.
At the same time, officials detained the three men at the Seamill Hydro, a few miles away from the port.
It is claimed the gang had planned to dive beneath the 87,400-tonne vessel under cover of darkness before retrieving the stash of cocaine.
They are understood to have been preparing to use a high-speed inflatable boat to get to the Cape Maria, which is registered in Majuro in the Marshall Islands.
Officers from the Border Force and Police Scotland retrieved the drugs from the ship. The captain and crew are not believed to have been involved in any way.
The three Dutch men appeared at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday and were remanded in custody.
The suspects were said to have arrived in Ayrshire posing as tourists.
Colombia is widely regarded as one of the biggest suppliers of cocaine throughout the world. The £30m haul of the drug would have generated tens of millions on the streets after being cut down into smaller-sized deals.
Colombian drugs baron Pablo Escobar, before being shot dead in 1993, was considered to be behind 80 per cent of the global cocaine market. He was also linked to Scotland’s biggest drugs seizure, worth £100m. The haul was seized by police in Kingussie, in 1991.
Couriers David Forrest, of Dundee, and Ian Rae, of Glenisla, Perthshire, were jailed for a total of 17 years over the plot.