Men convicted for attempting to smuggle £100m of cocaine in yacht

21 March 2019, 22:18 | Updated: 22 March 2019, 03:25

Three men have been convicted of attempting to smuggle over £100m worth of cocaine into the UK hidden in a yacht. 

The 1.4 tonnes of cocaine - with an estimated street value of £112m - was discovered by authorities when they intercepted a boat off the Cornish coast in August last year.

Britons 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 60ft yacht came from Suriname, south of Venezuela, and was escorted into Newlyn Harbour in Cornwall by officials.

The three men on board - Must, Gailis and Dijkstra - were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking offences and authorities later found more than 1,400kg blocks of cocaine hidden inside the vessel's locked storage containers.

The estimated wholesale amount of the drug haul is £44,896,000, although its street value is approximately £112m.

Clark and Waters were arrested later the same day by National Crime Agency (NCA) officers who had been observing them for two days.

Authorities believe the two men planned to meet the yacht at sea and transfer the drugs.

Ty Surgeon, who led the investigation for the NCA, said: "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."

The NCA's deputy director, Matt Horne, said the seizure would help to prevent violent crime in the UK, which has been linked 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."

The five men will be sentenced at Bristol Crown Court next week.