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All at sea Luxury yacht's former owner shocked after police find £160m worth of cocaine onboard

Six men including a Briton were arrested after authorities seized more than two tonnes of the drug after they intercepted and boarded the Kahu in international waters north of Guernsey.

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The Kahu when it was up for sale

The Kahu when it was up for sale

The Kahu when it was up for sale

The former owner of a luxury yacht has joked that his family and friends sent him messages asking what he had been up to after British police found a huge £160 million worth of cocaine on the vessel. 

Vancouver man Peter White-Robinson was shocked after the raid on his old luxury yacht, the Kahu, earlier this month.

Six men including a Briton were arrested after authorities seized more than two tonnes of the drug after they intercepted and boarded the Kahu in international waters north of Guernsey.

The yacht was then escorted back to an undisclosed location on the UK mainland where a team carried out a deep rummage search and discovered the enormous haul of Class A drugs.

Inside row after row of black, waterproof duffle bags, police discovered tightly wrapped bricks of cocaine, weighing more than 2,000 kilos.

The men, whose ages range from 24 to 49, were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking and remain in custody awaiting interviews, the NCA added in a statement.

Mr White-Robinson, who is originally from New Zealand watched the news unfold at his home in Vancouver.

When police released photos of the seizurehe realised the interior of the Kahu had barely change since he sold it in Vancouver in 2013.

“It was a huge part of our lives, that boat,” he said of the 37-metre-long yacht now making headlines around the world.

While living in his native New Zealand, White-Robinson owned three companies, including a superyacht construction firm.

Wanting to treat his family to the adventure of a lifetime by sailing around the world, he bought the decommissioned New Zealand Navy patrol boat and turned it into family-friendly vessel by boosting its power and range as well as its comfort.

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While he designed the infrastructure, his wife, Sharon, designed the interior, creating entertaining, cooking, sleeping, and eating quarters, as well as a classroom for their two young sons, aged 12 and 13 at the time.

In 2012, the White-Robinson family set off with some friends on their planned two-and-a-half-year journey.

A year after they left Auckland they landed on Vancouver Island.

“It was a remarkable adventure,” White-Robinson said. “While it lasted.”

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Part of the cocaine haul discovered by police

Part of the cocaine haul discovered by police

Part of the cocaine haul discovered by police

After arriving, he learned his yacht-building company was facing a financial crisis and he was forced to cut a deal with the buyer of a superyacht he was in the middle of building.

He turned the entire company over to him, including the Kahu.

“Canada was just going to be a stop along the trip," he said. "But I had a family who loves skiing, so it was quite attractive for them to end up in this place.”

He got a job as an executive with a Canadian engineering firm, and the family decided to stay in Canada but his wife died in November.

“The boys are pretty committed to Canada. We’re pretty much a Canadian family now,” he said adding that it was hard to let go of the Kahu at the time.

After the ship was sold, he “didn’t really follow it too much because it just hurt to get too close to it, so I just let things happen”.

But when he saw the photos of the Kahu again White-Robinson realised the interior looked the same, although the exterior had been painted.

“But this was strange to look at the boat and see her again in such circumstance. I miss her in that way.

“It probably would have been a sensible vessel to use in a way,” he said. “It was a good practical vessel, and it flies under the radar a bit — it was a nice vessel but not a great, big superyacht. I guess they did it because it was reasonably discreet.”

Speaking about the huge bust, NCA deputy director Matt Horne said: “There’s no doubt these drugs would have been sold on into communities across the UK in such ways as County Lines fuelling more crime and misery.

“Organised crime groups (OCG) are motivated by money.

“The deprivation of these drugs will smash a hole in the OCG’s plans and ability to operate.

“Also, the arrests of the men transporting the drugs means the crime group has lost trusted offenders who would have been key to their operation.

“We continue to work with partners at home such as Border Force and those abroad such as the AFP to protect the public from the Class A drugs threat.”

The NCA said the arrests demonstrate the strength of its international partnerships, working with the AFP who as part of the operation used evidence from their Operation Ironside, the country’s investigation into the AnOm encrypted comms platform.

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