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U.K. Drug-Running Go-Fast Boat
October 9, 2009

That's about $130,000 of outboards on the transom, folks!

In 2004, Richard Davison, the managing director of Crompton Marine, and his girlfriend, Ellen George, were arrested after Spanish authorities conducting anti-drug smuggling operations seized a number of boats sold by their company and reported them to British customs officials. The two were suspected of using Crompton Marine as a front for supplying high-speed inflatable boats to illegal drug merchants, advertising them as "high-speed, uncatchable craft that have a low radar signature."

When this particular boat was caught, it was carrying 300 kilograms of cocaine. At current prices, even at the lowest value of $14,000 per kilo, that's $4.2 million in cocaine. That will buy some boats and motors, sir.

After the couple's arrest, a third party, Ian Rush, allegedly carried on their underground boat trade under the name Nautexco Marine and was also arrested. Evidence presented during Rush's 2007 trial indicated that Davison and George (and later, Rush) were making secret deals for boats like the one pictured above: craft between 30 ft. and 60 ft. long, costing as much as £350,000 ($680,000 US), and featuring up to eight 250-horsepower engines with a total fuel storage capacity of 15,000 litres (almost 4,000 gallons - that's almost 25,000 POUNDS of fuel!!!) that enabled them to outrun pursuers at speeds up to 60 knots (70 mph). [Tony's note: I would have figured this baby would go over 100 mph with this much power, but the boat design does not look streamlined for that sort of speed]

The craft were designed with low profiles (to avoid radar detection) and were painted grey or black to make them difficult to spot on the water. Crompton (and Nautexco) Marine's primary customers were said to be smugglers who used the craft for transporting drugs and other contraband between north Africa and southern Spain.

Two more images of similar boats from Nautexco:

Special thanks to Noah for sending me this gem...

One final note: In 1985, I was down in the Bahamas (Little Exuma Island) at a home my parents used to co-own with a bunch of friends, and one of the "local boys'" pulled his fiberglass-hull go-fast pot-smuggling boat onto our beach to do some maintenance. Earl and I went out to admire the boat, which was about 40' in length and had "just" four 250-hp Mercury outboards on its ass end. The boat was stripped of everything that was non-essential so it could store more fuel and particular green goods. The driver said it topped out at over 120-mph, fully loaded with one driver, a shitload of gasoline and lots of dope. It was being used to pick up bales of pot dropped from twin-engine planes that flew from Columbia, and the boat would then ferry them to the Florida Keys or somewhere near. I have a photo of it somewhere, but I'm sorry it is not handy. Below is the Beach House:


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