Practical Boat Owner: A man from Hull has been jailed for an additional six years after admitting his part in a smuggling conspiracy to sail more than a tonne of cocaine into the UK on a yacht.
A ninth person, Wayne Bush, 45, is to be convicted over the smuggling plot on the yacht Makayabella, intercepted by the Irish Navy of the south-west coast of Ireland in September 2014.
The cocaine found on board would have had a street value in excess of £160 million if it had it cut and sold in the UK, where the vessel was headed to.
NCA National Crime Agency investigators found that Wayne Bush was part of a three man “coopering crew” who were due to sail out and meet Makayabella to bring back the drugs.
An attempt to meet the boat had previously failed after the boat ran out of fuel, and the three men on board, including ringleader Stephen Powell, had to be towed back to port.
Two days later Stephen Powell and another gang member, James Hill, met up with Wayne Bush and to try buying another boat at a marina in Milford Haven, south Wales but was unsuccessful.
When the three men found out that their boat Makayabella had been intercepted and the drugs seized, they dumped the car that they were travelling in at Cardiff Airport.
When their car was searched, six drums containing red diesel for the planned boat trip were found in the car boot.
A marina compliments slip with both Stephen Powell and Wayne Bush’s fingerprints on it was also discovered.
Wayne Bush was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for an unrelated assault offence, but in June 2015 he was arrested by the NCA at HMP Humber in connection with the Makayabella plot.
He pleaded guilty to conspiring to import class A drugs at Leeds Crown Court on 15 March, and he was sentenced to a six year prison sentence, to serve consecutively to the three-and-a-half years that he is already serving.
“Wayne Bush’s role in this major drugs conspiracy was to assist in a second attempt to rescue the yacht when it broke down in order to transfer one tonne of cocaine to another boat out at sea. Thankfully, attempts to find another boat were unsuccessful. Had the plan succeeded, £164 million worth of drugs would have landed on Britain’s streets”, said Tarryn McCaffrey, reviewing lawyer in the Organised Crime Division at the Crown Prosecution Service.
This drug case shows that each and every member of a gang can be successfully prosecuted for their involvement in these crimes, even if they are part of a large organised crime group.