Three men have been convicted of trying to smuggle cocaine worth in excess of £100 million into the UK via a sailing yacht.
The 1.4 tonnes of cocaine, with an estimated street value of £112 million, was hidden aboard S/Y Nomad which was discovered by authorities when they intercepted the boat off the Cornish coast in August last year.
British citizens Nigel Clark, 64, and Dean Waters, 59, and Dutch national Raymond Dijkstra, 27, were found guilty of conspiring to import cocaine, as well as conspiring to conceal cocaine within a ship.
Two other men – Estonian Richard Must, 49, and Latvian Voldermars Gailis, 21 – pleaded guilty to all charges at an earlier hearing.
The 18.3-metre (60-foot) yacht departed Suriname, south of Venezuela, in early August and was escorted into Newlyn Harbour in Cornwall after being seized by officials. The three men on board Nomad – Must, Gailis and Dijkstra – were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking offences.
Afterwards the authorities discovered over 1,400kg blocks of cocaine hidden inside the yacht’s locked storage containers.
The estimated wholesale amount of the drug haul totals £44,896,000.
Clark and Waters were arrested later on that day by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers who had been monitoring their movement for two days.
The authorities believe that Clark and Waters planned to meet the yacht at sea and transfer the drugs.
Ty Surgeon, leader of the investigation for the NCA, commented, “The main instigators Clark and Waters – both of whom have previous convictions for drug trafficking offences – knew exactly what they were doing and had planned every part of the drug smuggling attempt.
“This case should act as a deterrence to anyone who thinks they can import or smuggle drugs into the UK.”
NCA deputy director, Matt Horne, explained that the seizure would help to prevent violent crime in the UK which is related to drug supply.
He added, “Making a profit is the motive for organised criminals and this interdiction would have really hit them in the pocket – disrupting their activities and damaging their reputation at the same time.”
All five men will appear for sentencing at Bristol Crown Court next week.
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