Fact Check

Drug-Running Boat

Photograph shows a 2000-horsepower drug-smuggling boat bearing eight outboard motors.

Published March 18, 2007

Photograph shows a 2000-horsepower drug-smuggling boat with eight outboard motors.

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":

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 eventually caught by authorities. 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 in 2007), and featuring up to eight 250-horsepower engines (with a total fuel storage capacity of 15,000 litres) that enabled them to outrun pursuers at speeds up 60 knots (70 mph).

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.

News accounts carried some additional photos of the craft in question (although nothing in those reports indicated that any such craft had been intercepted crossing the English Channel):


Massey, Ray.   "Boatbuilding Firm Supplied 'Uncatchable' Boats to Smugglers, Court Hears."     The Mail on Sunday.   18 January 2007.

BBC News.   "Firm 'Built Drug Dealer's Boats'."     18 January 2007.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Article Tags