Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight £90m cocaine yacht trial: Man 'found with drugs'

A man tried to smuggle cocaine with a value of £90m into the UK on a yacht from the Caribbean, a court has heard.

Piotr Pachnia, 33, was arrested after customs officials tracking the yacht Baila boarded the vessel south of the Isle of Wight in June last year.

It was escorted to Portsmouth where 452kgs (996lbs) of cocaine was found behind false walls, hidden in compartments and a holdall.

Mr Pachnia, of no fixed abode, denies possessing a controlled Class A drug.

The court heard the cocaine had an average purity of 90% and had a street value of £90m.

The yacht's captain, Thomas Dylik, 48, has already admitted drug offences in relation to the haul, it was heard.

'Innocent stooge'

A jury at Portsmouth Crown Court heard the yacht was returning from St Lucia in the Caribbean when customs officials on HMC Valiant started tracking it in the English Channel near Plymouth on 8 June.

Three officers boarded the vessel when it entered UK territorial waters 11 miles south of St Catherine's Point the following day.

They escorted Baila to Portsmouth amid suspicions illegal drugs could be hidden on board after three swab tests revealed traces of illegal substances, the court was told.

Officers also found food from South America, Panama and the Dominican Republic on board.

On searching the yacht officers discovered more than 470 packages and cylinders of cocaine, the jury heard.

When questioned, Mr Pachnia claimed he was on a holiday and had no knowledge of the drugs.

He said he knew importing drugs into England was illegal and that he was an "innocent stooge", the court was told.

The trial continues.

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