Leeds man admits £100m cocaine smuggling plot

Members of the navy stand behind cocaine taken from onboard the yacht Makayabella in Haulbowline naval base, Cobh, Co Cork
Members of the navy stand behind cocaine taken from onboard the yacht Makayabella in Haulbowline naval base, Cobh, Co Cork
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A MAN from West Yorkshire has admitted being involved in a plot to smuggle £100 million in cocaine into the UK.

Stephen Powell, 47, from Guiseley, was charged with conspiracy to import cocaine following the seizure of around a tonne of the drug on board the yacht Makayabella last month, in an international operation involving the Irish Naval Service and the National Crime Agency.

Powell pleaded guilty to the charge when he appeared by video link at Leeds Crown Court today.

Powell’s father John Powell, 70, of Silsden, West Yorkshire, Benjamin Mellor, 35, of Bradford and Thomas Britteon, 28, of Grimsby, were also charged by the Garda Siochana in Ireland 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 have also been arrested in connection with the investigation.

The luxury yacht was found last month in poor condition in the Atlantic Ocean, 200 miles off the south west coast of Ireland, while investigators also seized a 25ft motor boat called Sea Breeze, moored in Pwllheli, north Wales.

Powell entered his plea at a brief court hearing today.

He appeared by video link to Wakefield Prison wearing a grey sweatshirt and spoke only to confirm his name and to enter his guilty plea.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier, told him: “Stephen Powell, you have pleaded guilty to this very serious offence and obviously you will be receiving, in due course, a significant custodial sentence.”

Powell will appear for a further hearing before the same court in early December.