Thursday 26 April 2018

Crew members on €80m cocaine boat were standing in their own waste

Conditions on board €80m cocaine yacht were 'shocking' after horrific six-week journey

The yacht Makayabella is led into Haulbowline naval base, Cobh, Co Cork after the Irish Navy intercepted the vessel suspected of carrying around €80 million worth of cocaine 200 nautical miles off Mizen Head, Ireland's most southerly point. PA
The yacht Makayabella is led into Haulbowline naval base, Cobh, Co Cork after the Irish Navy intercepted the vessel suspected of carrying around €80 million worth of cocaine 200 nautical miles off Mizen Head, Ireland's most southerly point. PA
Members of the Irish navy standing behind what is believed to be around a tonne of cocaine seized from the yacht Makayabella.
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

The shattered crew members of the yacht on which €80m of cocaine was seized last week were standing in their own excrement when the armed Naval Service boarding party boarded the vessel.

The toilets of the 60ft 'Makayabella' had blocked leaving human waste swilling around the cabin.

Its sails had been torn in an Atlantic gale and the yacht's engine failed just minutes after the boarding, forcing her to be taken under tow by the LE Roisin and LE Niamh.

"It was absolutely shocking," one navy source told the Sunday Independent.

On Friday evening, three men - John Powell of 10 Airedale Mews, Silsden, West Yorkshire, UK; Thomas Britteon of 120 Convamore Road, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, UK; and Benjamin Mellor of Manningham, Moringtom Villas, Bradford, Yorkshire, UK - were charged in connection with the seizure.

They are charged with the possession of a controlled drug on September 23, knowing or suspecting that it was for importation contrary to Section 5 (1-A) of the Misuse of Drugs Act.

A fourth man will be charged in the UK.

The heavily laden yacht had undertaken a horrific six-week journey from the Caribbean to waters just 250km off the Cork coast. Government and Opposition TDs this weekend described the seizure as "a wake-up call" to the escalating threat posed by drug smugglers.

One-third of the Naval Service fleet was involved in dealing with the 'Makayabella', 250km off Mizen Head, because of two ships being unavailable for duty.

Government backbench TD Ciaran Lynch (Lab) and opposition spokesman Billy Kelleher (FF) warned that, without accurate intelligence, trying to interdict international drug smugglers is like "hunting for a needle in a field of haystacks".

"This was a tremendous success for the Naval Service, gardai and Customs and Excise," he said. " But it does raise alarming questions about the resources provided for these key agencies and the growing threat posed by these drug barons to Irish and European society," Mr Kelleher said.

Ireland has 22 million kilometres of territorial waters - and one million of those are deemed a priority for security patrols.

In seven years, three drug seizures off the Cork coast alone - all of which involved ocean-going yachts which had visited the Caribbean and Central America - have accounted for almost €1bn worth of cocaine.

Sunday Independent

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