Published On: Fri, Dec 5th, 2014 on 6:17 pm

Man from Leeds jailed over £160m cocaine smuggling plot

Yacht Cocaine Raid

The yacht intercepted by the Irish Navy

A man from West Yorkshire who was part of a plot to smuggle over a tonne of cocaine into the UK in a boat has been jailed for 16 years.

Stephen Powell, 48, of Netherfield Road in Guiseley, Leeds, was arrested following the interception of the yacht Makayabella around 300 miles off the south west coast of Ireland in September.

The Irish Naval Service boarded the yacht and discovered around a tonne of cocaine on board.

The drugs, which originated in Venezuela, would have had a likely UK street value in excess of £160 million once cut and sold.

Yacht Cocaine Raid

One tonne of cocaine seized

Three British men were detained on the vessel and taken to the Irish mainland for questioning by An Garda Síochána. They are now being prosecuted in Ireland.

NCA officers raided Powell’s home in Guiseley as he handed himself in.

He pleaded guilty to conspiring to import a class A drug, and was sentenced to 16 years in prison at Leeds Crown Court today.

NCA Branch Commander David Norris said: “This single seizure roughly equates to four percent of the total amount of cocaine we estimate is imported into the UK every year.

“It demonstrates the importance of working with our law enforcement partners abroad to stop illegal drugs reaching the UK.

“I have no doubt that Powell played a crucial role in this plot and would have been responsible for bringing this shipment ashore, where the cocaine would have ended up in the hands of drug dealers around the north of England.”

Two men and a woman, all from the West Yorkshire area, remain on bail.

Images courtesy: National Crime Agency.

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