Arrests with alleged cocaine yacht smuggling plot
A 29-year-old man from Leeds arrested by the National Crime Agency (NCA) yesterday in connection with a suspected plot to smuggle cocaine on a yacht has been bailed pending further enquiries.
Additionally, a 55-year-old woman arrested at an address in West Yorkshire as part of the same investigation has also been bailed.
In total seven people have been arrested in connection with the seizure of one tonne of cocaine, made by the Irish Naval Service on board the yacht Makayabella on 23 September.
A 43-year-old man arrested by the NCA at an address in Leeds last Wednesday, 24 September, was subsequently bailed pending further enquiries.
Stephen Powell, 47, of Netherfield Road, Guisely was charged and appeared before Leeds Magistrates on Saturday. He was remanded in custody until Monday 13 October when he is due to appear at Leeds Crown Court.
One tonne of the Class A drug cocaine was seized from a 62ft yacht off the coast of Ireland on 23 September, which had been sailed from the Carribbean.
If cut and sold in the UK, this drug haul would have a street value in excess of £100million.
Three crew members, all from West Yorkshire – John Powell, aged 70, of Airedale Mews, Silsden; Benjamin, Mellor, aged 35, of Mornington Villas, Bradford; and Thomas Britteon, aged 28, of Convamore Road, Grimsby – were detained and questioned by Ireland’s national police service An Garda Síochána.
All three have been charged with possessing cocaine with intent to import.
On 26 September, a 25ft motorboat called Sea Breeze was seized by NCA officers from a marina in Pwllheli, North Wales and forensically examined. Investigators believe the motorboat was to be used to meet up with the yacht Makayabella in the Atlantic.
NCA branch commander David Norris, who is leading the investigation, said: ‘This has been a complex and fast moving investigation, involving law enforcement agencies in the UK, Ireland, Europe and South America.
‘Our enquiries are continuing.’