Leeds & West Yorkshire

Guiseley man admits £100m cocaine smuggling plot

The Irish naval vessel - the LÉ Niamh, sails alongside the detained yacht Makayabella Image copyright Irish Defence Forces
Image caption The Irish navy intercepted the yacht Makayabella after it was tracked from Venezuela

A man has admitted plotting to smuggle cocaine with an estimated street value of £100m into the UK.

Stephen Powell, 47, from Guiseley, pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court to conspiracy to import the class A drug.

Powell was charged after about a tonne of cocaine was found on the Makayabella yacht off the coast of Ireland.

He was told by Judge Peter Collier he faced a "significant custodial sentence" and was remanded in custody ahead of sentencing on 5 December.

The Makayabella was intercepted about 200 miles of the south west coast of Ireland on 23 September following a covert surveillance operation to track it from Venezuela.

Intelligence sources said it was understood the drugs were heading for the north Wales coast.

Investigators also seized a second vessel, the motorboat Sea Breeze, at Pwllheli in Gwynedd, on 26 September.

Three other men have been charged in connection with the plot following an international operation involving the Irish Naval Service and the National Crime Agency.

Powell's father John Powell, 70, of Silsden, West Yorkshire, Benjamin Mellor, 35, of Bradford, West Yorkshire, and Thomas Britteon, 28, of Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, have been charged with possessing cocaine with intent to import after they were detained on board the yacht.

They have appeared at Cork District Court in Ireland.

A 43-year-old man and a 29-year-old man, both from Leeds, have also been arrested in connection with the investigation.

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