Moves to smash an international gang of drug smugglers switched dramatically to the Clyde — and Seamill — this week.

Cocaine with a street value of around £1 million was seized from a Hunterston-bound ship as it entered the Clyde.

At the same time as the Interpol team of police, and Border Force officials found 108 kilos of the drug on the ship, three Dutch nationals were being arrested at Seamill Hydro Hotel.

It is suspected the three who were arrested had come to the area to collect the drugs — but police and Border Force officials, acting on a tip-off, were waiting on the bulk carrier Cape Maria as it arrived off local shores from Colombia in South America.

A source close to the operation told the “News”: “The Border Force went on board the ship with Dutch authorities on Friday and found 108 kilos of cocaine stashed on board. It’s certainly a decent-sized seizure — and, in terms of the Clyde area, it’s a big one.” After the seizure the drugs were taken away for forensic testing.

The ‘News’ was told that the cocaine would have been worth millions of pounds on the street.

Three men were expected to appear at Leeds Magistrates Court as we went to press because of a Yorkshire connection to the operation.

National Crime Agency The operation, which has led to arrests elsewhere in the UK, involved the National Crime Agency, Border Policing Command, Dutch police, Police Scotland and Yorkshire Police.

The 87,400-tonne Cape Maria was bringing coal to Hunterston from Puerto Nuevo in Colombia. Suspicions were raised on Friday morning that something was not right when a UK Border Force vessel, which had been seen in the area since Wednesday, moved in to meet the bulk carrier. A police RIB with divers onbaord was also standing by.

The “News” was then tipped off that officers from a Border Force ship had boarded the vessel to start a search and the police diving team were there to make sure nothing was thrown overboard - and also perhaps to search the hull.

Another hint that something was afoot came from the ship’s position.

One Clyde observer, with knowledge of shipping movements, told the “News”: “I saw that she had an escort from the customs launch so suspected she had been ordered to anchor inside Cumbrae Heads to allow searches and, therefore, assumed she was in from Colombia.” He added: “It is unusual these days for any boat for Hunterston to come up to the inner anchorages, as to do so incurs Clydeport charges and additional pilotage attendance — i.e. to come to anchorage and then to move from anchorage to berth. Altogether, it would cost several thousands of pounds extra.” The Cape Maria has been anchored off Skelmorlie since Friday.

Several years ago officers swooped on a coal container vessel which berthed at Hunterston, carrying drugs from South America.