Five men jailed over bid to import cocaine with street value of £112m into UK

The yacht SY Nomad was intercepted off the coast of Cornwall in August 2018.

Recovered cocaine
Recovered cocaine

Five men have been jailed for a total of 120 years after trying to import cocaine with a street value of over £100 million into the UK hidden in a yacht.

The 1.4 tonnes of the Class A drug worth £112 million was concealed in the SY Nomad, which was intercepted by the authorities 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 all jailed at Bristol Crown Court for their roles in the conspiracy.

Clark and Waters were each jailed for 28 years, Must was locked up for 30 years, Dijkstra was given an 18-year prison sentence and Gailis 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,” he said.

“The planning of this crime was over a year in gestation. It involved an investment of more than 800,000 euros to bring it to fruition.

“The only reason that the principal offenders in this case – Nigel Clark, Dean Waters and Richard Must – expended so much time, energy and money in seeking to bring about this audacious plan was in the hope of securing simply enormous profits.

Nigel Clark
Nigel Clark faces 28 years in jail (National Crime Agency/PA)

“But for the intervention of the National Crime Agency and the Border Force, it would have flooded the drug market in this country, contributing by so doing to the appalling social harm that the prevalence of cheap Class A drugs represents.

“This is criminality of truly staggering proportions.”

The judge ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the cocaine while a Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will take place later.

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.

Cocaine trial yacht
The yacht used by the five men (National Crime Agency/PA)

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 £44,896,000, with an approximate street value of £112 million.

Clark and Waters were arrested later that day by National Crime Agency officers who had been observing their activity over a period of two days.

Dean Waters
Dean Waters was given a 28-year sentence (National Crime Agency/PA)

The authorities believe that Waters, who had purchased a rigid inflatable boat, and Clark planned to meet the yacht at sea and transfer the drugs.

Rose-Marie Franton, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Our prosecution was able to show that each of these men took an active and willing role in this highly-organised conspiracy to import large amounts of cocaine into this country.”

Ty Surgeon, senior investigating officer for the National Crime Agency, said: “This was an audacious plan to bring cocaine worth £112 million to the UK by boat, and it was only thwarted through law enforcement and partner agencies working together, sharing intelligence and conducting operational activity to stop it.

“The main instigators, Clark and Waters, both of whom have previous convictions for drug trafficking offences, are professional drug smugglers. They knew exactly what they were doing and had planned every part of the attempt.

“This case demonstrates our ability and ongoing determination to disrupt and prosecute the international criminal gangs attempting to smuggle drugs into the UK.”

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