Five men have been jailed for a total of 120 years after trying to smuggle more than £100million worth of cocaine into the UK.
The 1.4 tonnes of Class A drug - worth an estimated £112million - were found on board a yacht, which was intercepted off the Cornish coast in August last year.
UK nationals Nigel Clark, 64, and Dean Waters, 59, Estonian Richard Must, 49, Dutchman Raymond Dijkstra, 27, and Latvian Voldermars Gailis, 21, were jailed at Bristol Crown Court for their roles in the conspiracy.
A breakdown of the jail terms:
Clark and Waters were each jailed for 28 years
Must was locked up for 30 years
Dijkstra was given an 18-year prison sentence
Gailis was sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment
Passing sentence, Judge Martin Picton said the conspiracy was “an exercise in international drug smuggling of the highest order”.
Whilst this is not the biggest-ever seizure of Class A drugs to have been made by the UK authorities, it is certainly one of the biggest.
The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the cocaine while a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place at a later date.
Clark, of no fixed address; Waters, of Estepona, Spain; and Dijkstra, of Holland, were convicted by a jury of conspiring to import cocaine and conspiring to conceal cocaine within a ship following a five-week trial.
Must, of Estonia, and Gailis, of Latvia, had earlier pleaded guilty to the same charges.
The court heard the 60ft yacht had left Suriname, just south of Venezuela, at the beginning of August heading for the UK when it was intercepted.
The vessel was escorted into Newlyn Harbour in Cornwall and the three men on board - skipper Must and crew Gailis and Dijkstra - were arrested on suspicion of drug trafficking offences.
The authorities then searched the boat and within an hour they discovered more than 1,400 kilo blocks of cocaine hidden inside locked storage containers on the vessel.
The estimated wholesale of this amount of cocaine was £44million with an approximate street value of £112million.