Sunday 26 January 2020

67-year-old Irish trawler skipper is charged in UK with importing over €90m of cocaine

IMPORTING: The cocaine haul weighed more than a tonne
IMPORTING: The cocaine haul weighed more than a tonne

Sally Wardle

An Irishman has been charged with importing cocaine after more than a tonne of the drug - with a street value of more than €90m - was found in one of the "most significant" seizures of its kind in the UK.

The haul was recovered from a boat off the south coast of England, the British National Crime Agency (NCA) has said.

The drugs were discovered on the Bianca, a British-registered converted fishing trawler, on Thursday, in UK waters just south of Falmouth, in Cornwall.

The trawler was intercepted during a joint operation involving NCA and Border Force maritime command officers, who boarded the boat and found around 50 bags containing what was suspected to be cocaine.

The NCA said the seizure would have a "significant disruptive impact" on the drug supply chain throughout Europe.

The owner and captain of the boat, Michael McDermott (67), an Irish national, and his crew, Dutch national Gerald Van De Kooij (26) and Briton David Pleasants (57) appeared at Bodmin Magistrates' Court yesterday charged with importing cocaine.

The three men have been remanded in custody until their next hearing, scheduled for Bristol Crown Court on September 20.

"This is one of the most significant drugs seizures ever made in the UK and a testament to the multi-agency approach we adopt to secure the UK's border and territorial waters," said Mike Stepney, director of national operations at Border Force.

Sunday Independent

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