COASTAL communities in Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire have a key role in acting as the eyes and ears of the police in helping to tackle the drugs menace.

That is the message from a senior Dyfed-Powys police officer after two men were convicted of trying to smuggle a huge haul of 750kg of cocaine worth millions of pounds into the country along the Pembrokeshire coast.

Gary Swift, aged 53, was jailed for 19 and a half years and Scott Kilgour, 41, for 13 and a half years after being caught trying to smuggle the drugs through Fishguard harbour.

Their yacht the Atrevido was intercepted by Border Force officers half a mile out to sea and they found 751 kilos of cocaine “hidden in every available space” aboard the boat.

Both men, from Liverpool, admitted attempting to import the drugs from the South American state of Suriname.

Following the pair’s conviction, Pembrokeshire area commander Superintendent Ross Evans said: “This sentencing sends a clear message to criminals and organised criminal gangs that the Dyfed-Powys area is not a soft target and we will take the appropriate action to keep our communities safe.

“There are notable challenges in policing 350 miles of coastline and we will continue to work with partner agencies to disrupt illegal activities such as drug smuggling and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.

“Essential in our success in bringing coastline criminals to justice are our communities.

“I am calling on all members of our maritime community, whether working or enjoying leisure time on our coastline and waterways, to help us disrupt this type of criminality. If you see anything suspicious, no matter how insignificant it may seem, report it.”

Reports can be made anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or police on 101 (999 in an emergency).