£100 million drugs bust: West Yorkshire men in court

Calendar can reveal five men from West Yorkshire have been arrested by Irish drugs squad officers after a yacht with a drugs cargo worth £100 million was intercepted. A sixth man wanted over the heist has handed himself in to police.

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Sixth suspect wanted over £100 drug bust hands himself in

A sixth suspect being hunted over an alleged plot to smuggle £100m worth of cocaine across the Atlantic in a yacht, has handed himself in.

The 29-year -old from Leeds is wanted for questioning about the seizure of a tonne of drugs on board the Makayabella off the Irish coast last week, walked into a police station in West Yorkshire last night.

He has been arrested by the UK National Crime Agency.

Leeds man remanded in custody over £100m drugs bust

A man from Leeds has appeared in court accused of conspiracy to import 100 million pounds worth of cocaine into the UK. Stephen Powell, from Guiseley, was arrested following the seizure of around a tonne of cocaine on board a yacht off the Irish coast earlier this week

His father, 70-year-old John Powell from Silsden in West Yorkshire, along with a 34-year-old man from Bradford and a 28-year-old man from Grimsby, all appeared in court in Ireland last night, accused of trafficking cocaine with intent to import. All have been remanded in custody.


Man to appear in court over drugs seizure

A man from Leeds is due to appear in court this morning in relation to a drugs operation which uncovered £100 million worth of cocaine on a yacht off the Irish coast.

National Crime Agency investigators charged Stephen Powell, 47, from Netherfield Road, Guiseley, with conspiracy to import cocaine.

He will be appear at Leeds Magistrates Court this morning.

Father and son among those arrested in drug bust

A father and son from West Yorkshire are among five men arrested by officers investigating the discovery of a tonne of cocaine on a yacht off the Irish coast on Tuesday.

Police are searching a second yacht in connection with the discovery of £100 million worth of cocaine Credit: National Crime Agency

The 70-year-old was one of three men arrested on the Makayabella while his 47-year-old son was one of two other men arrested in West Yorkshire in connection with the find.

National Crime Agency officers revealed today that they are searching a second boat, moored in North Wales which they believe was to be used to ferry the drugs ashore.

They also say they are searching for a 29-year-old man, believed to be in the Halton Moor area of Leeds.

it is suspected a UK-based six-man gang behind the botched smuggling bid was split into two - three men to sail the contraband thousands of miles across the Atlantic and three to pick it up from the yacht on a motor boat offshore.

The tactic, commonly used to evade authorities, is known as coopering.

It is now believed the Makayabella set sail from the Carribbean as far back as mid-July, meaning it was at sea for nine weeks when armed naval officers took the crew by surprise under the cover of darkness in the early hours of Tuesday.

The yacht was about 200 nautical miles off the south-west coast of Ireland in an area known as the western frontier into Europe. Its sails were in bad condition and its engine failed shortly after the interception, forcing the navy to tow it ashore.

The vessel was said to be so packed with cocaine, bales of the drug were being used as makeshift furniture.

Second boat seized in drug smuggling investigation

National Crime Agency officers investigating a suspected plot to smuggle around a tonne of cocaine to the UK on board a yacht have seized a second vessel believed to be linked to the attempt.

Second boat seized in investigation

The 25-foot motor boat Sea Breeze, which was located at a marina in Pwllheli, North Wales, is now being forensically examined.

Investigators believe the vessel was to be used to meet up with the yacht Makayabella in the Atlantic. The Makayabella was intercepted by the Irish Naval Service, acting on intelligence provided by the NCA and French Customs DNRED, on Tuesday.

An estimated one tonne of cocaine was found on board and three British men detained. The vessel was taken to a naval base in Ireland where the men were arrested by An Garda Síochána.

A tonne of cocaine if cut and sold in the UK would have a street value in excess of £100 million.

NCA officers have been granted more time to question another 47-year-old man from the Leeds area arrested yesterday on suspicion of conspiring to import class A drugs.

A 43-year-old man was also arrested at an address in Leeds on Wednesday.

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, and we still wish to speak to one other individual in connection with this, a 29-year-old man from the Halton Moor area of Leeds. I would urge him to contact us.”

Pensioner among five from Yorkshire arrested in drug bust off Irish coast

Five men from Yorkshire including a 70-year-old pensioner have been arrested after an international operation which led to one of the biggest drug seizures at sea in Europe this year.

Three of the men were detained off the Irish coast following the interception of a yacht carrying cocaine with a street value of around £100 million.

Two others were arrested in Leeds.

The National Crime Agency said tonight it's a huge blow to drug traffickers. Jon Hill reports:


Pensioner captained drugs yacht

The yacht stopped by drugs squad officers and found to have £100m worth of cocaine onboard was skippered by a pensioner from West Yorkshire.

The 70-year-old was arrested onboard the 60ft Makayabella along with two other men from the county, aged 35 and 28, during an overnight operation by armed Irish Navy teams.

Two other men, aged 45 and 47, were arrested in West Yorkshire yesterday and today by the National Crime Agency.

The yacht had been tracked by authorities in several countries as it left Venezuela, stopping off in Trinidad, before being stormed by an elite Navy squad 200 nautical miles off Mizen Head - Ireland's most southerly point - in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Security sources said the plot involved landing the consignment on the North Wales coast.

The smugglers are believed to have planned to transfer the cocaine onto a smaller boat at sea before ferrying the illegal cargo to shore, a well-used tactic of international drug traffickers known as coopering.

It is understood the seizure, one of the biggest on the seas this year, was so large the suspects were forced to use bales of cocaine as makeshift furniture for the weeks-long transatlantic voyage.

Under armed guard today, the one tonne haul was offloaded from the yacht onto the docks at Haulbowline naval base in Cork harbour, where it was towed to last night.

"The cost of putting an operation like this together for the organised crime gangs is significant."

"That money has been taken out of circulation, but more importantly the drugs are taken out of circulation."

– John O'Mahony, assistant commissioner of the Garda

The crew were said to be in reasonably good condition for being at sea for so long, and were sitting on the bales of cocaine when they were intercepted.

They put up no resistance and no arms have been yet found on board.

The three Britons arrested onboard are being questioned at Bridewell Garda Station in Cork under drug trafficking laws.

They can be held for seven days.

Another West Yorkshire man arrested after drugs haul

Another man has been arrested after a yacht carrying a massive haul of drugs was intercepted off the Irish coast.

A 47-year-old man was arrested today in the Leeds area. It brings the total number of men arrested to five. Three men were arrested onboard, and a fourth was arrested yesterday in Leeds - they are all from West Yorkshire.

The National Crime Agency now say the haul of cocaine could be worth up to £100m.

Man from Leeds bailed over drugs yacht

The National Crime Agency has confirmed a 43-year-old man has been arrested in the Leeds area.

It follows the interception of a charter yacht off the Irish coast, which was found to be carrying a cargo of drugs worth £62.5 million.

He was detained in operation co-ordinated with West Yorkshire Police, in the early hours of yesterday on suspicion of conspiring to import Class A drugs. He was subsequently bailed until January.

The Makayabella yacht was tracked from the Caribbean and the international investigation also involved Venezuelan authorities.

All four people arrested in connection with the suspected smuggling plot are British passport holders and all are either originally from the West Yorkshire region or have connections to northern England.

Arrest made in West Yorkshire after multi-million pound drugs bust

Cargo yacht the Makayabella was stormed by the Irish Navy 200 nautical miles off Mizen Head Credit: RTE
An Irish Navy Rib leads in the yacht Makayabella into Haulbowline naval base in Co Cork Credit: PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Four men from West Yorkshire have been arrested after a yacht was intercepted with a suspected cargo of cocaine worth £100 million in Ireland.

The 60ft Makayabella was stormed by the Irish Navy 200 nautical miles off Mizen Head - Ireland's most southerly point - in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The cargo of drugs, believed to be about one tonne, remains on the vessel at the dock while the three suspects are being questioned by the Garda.

The men were taken to the Bridewell station in Cork city where they can be held for seven days.

It is understood one person was arrested in West Yorkshire in a follow-up raid.

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