£200m drug smuggling plot ended with boat on the rocks

A "HIGH stakes" plot to smuggle cocaine worth more than £200 million was foiled when a boat carrying the consignment was shipwrecked off the Irish coast, a court has heard.

The gang behind the operation arranged for the 62 bales of the drug – a total of almost 1.6 tonnes – to be transferred from a catamaran which had crossed the Atlantic from the Caribbean to a rigid hull inflatable boat in order to land it at a remote point in south west Ireland.

The vessel ran out of fuel in force six gales and foundered on the rocks on 2 July, 2007 before it reached its destination, Blackfriars Crown Court was told.

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Two men swam ashore, while another was rescued by a lifeboat and helicopter after the boat sank. The drugs packages were retrieved from the sea, the court heard.

Details of the conspiracy emerged at the opening of the trial of a man accused of helping the botched operation by allegedly providing the three Land Rovers that were used by the gang.

John Edney, 57, of Sutton-at-Hone, Kent, denies conspiracy to supply a class A drug, namely cocaine.

It is alleged that on or before 9 July, 2007, he conspired together with Michael Daly, Alan Wells and others to supply the drug.

Daly, 49, a retired Metropolitan Police detective sergeant who organised the logistics, and Wells, 56, had both pleaded guilty to their part in the conspiracy, prosecuting counsel Mark Gadsden told the jury.

A further three men – Perry Wharrie, Martin Wanden and Joe Daly – were convicted in Cork while a fourth – Gerard Hagan – pleaded guilty at the start of the trial, he said.

Mr Gadsden told the jury Daly was "pivotal" to the conspiracy, organising the logistics, purchasing the boat and a rescue vessel, and finding "safe houses" near the remote spot where it was intended to bring the drugs ashore.

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