Cocaine smugglers facing jail over £112m drug racket

Three men have been convicted of trying to import cocaine with a street value of over £100 million into the UK hidden in a yacht.

The 1.4 tonnes of cocaine worth £112 million was hidden in the SY Nomad which was intercepted by the authorities off the Cornish coast in August last year.

UK nationals Nigel Clark, 64, and Dean Waters, 59, and Dutchman Raymond Dijkstra, 27, were convicted by a jury of conspiring to import cocaine and conspiring to conceal cocaine within a ship at Bristol Crown Court following a five-week trial.

Bags of cocaine seized by the British authorities (National Crime Agency/PA)
Bags of cocaine seized by the British authorities (National Crime Agency/PA)

Co-accused – Estonian Richard Must, 49, and Latvian Voldermars Gailis, 21 – pleaded guilty to all charges at an earlier hearing.

The court heard the 60ft yacht had left Suriname, just south of Venezuela, at the beginning of August heading for the UK when it was intercepted.

The vessel was escorted into Newlyn Harbour in Cornwall and the three men on board – skipper Must and crew Gailis and Dijkstra – were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking offences.

The authorities then searched the boat and within an hour they discovered more than 1,400 kilo blocks of cocaine hidden inside locked storage containers on the vessel.

The drugs were hidden inside the yacht (National Crime Agency/PA).
The drugs were hidden inside the yacht (National Crime Agency/PA).

The estimated wholesale of this amount of cocaine is £44,896,000, with an approximate street value of £112 million.

Clark and Waters were arrested later that day by National Crime Agency officers who had been observing their activity over a period of two days.

The authorities believe that Waters, who had purchased a rigid inflatable boat, and Clark planned to meet the yacht at sea and transfer the drugs.

Ty Surgeon, who led the investigation for the National Crime Agency, said: “This is another fantastic example of law enforcement and partner agencies working together, sharing intelligence and conducting operational activity to stop the importation of a huge amount of cocaine into the UK.

“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 said: “This intelligence-led investigation resulted in the seizure of a significant quantity of cocaine that would have made its way to towns and cities across the UK.

“This was a highly profitable commodity with an estimated street value of £112 million.

“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.

“We know there are links between drug supply and violent crime and this seizure, along with the two tonnes recovered in similar circumstances at the same harbour in July last year, demonstrate the NCA’s role in helping to prevent that”.

Clark, of no fixed address; Waters, of Estepona, Spain; Must, of Estonia; Gailis, of Latvia; and Dijkstra, of Holland, will be sentenced on March 26 at Bristol Crown Court.

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