TWO British men who bought a yacht in Spain to use in a £60 million cocaine smuggling plot have been jailed for a total of 33 years.
Spain’s Policia Nacional worked closely with the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) to bust the criminal conspiracy in August 2018.
Together the forces had identified the yacht SY Atrevido as carrying a large cocaine shipment.
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The UK Border Force cutter HMC Protector was dispatched to intercept the yacht, boarding it off the coast of Wales in the early hours of August 27, 2019.
British nationals, Gary Swift, 53, and Scott Kilgour, 41, both from Liverpool, were arrested.
The Border Force escorted the yacht to Fishguard port where a search found 751 kilos of cocaine.
Tests were to reveal the drugs were up to 83 per cent pure and had a wholesale value of £24 million and a potential street price of £60 million once cut.
Upon arrest, Swift said to officers: “I just want to say that I am guilty. I have got something substantial on the boat and they will find it.”
He later admitted ‘I’m the bad one here,’ and asked custody officers to pass a message to the NCA revealing the number of packages on board the yacht.
In December 2018, Kilgour had bought the vessel, paying €50,000 for it from a seller in Mallorca, Spain.
Swift and Kilgour were sentenced to 19 years 6 months and 13 years 6 months respectively at Swansea Crown Court, after pleading guilty to importing class A drugs into the UK at an earlier hearing.
Four others – three men aged 23, 31, 47, and a woman aged 30 – arrested in Liverpool and Loughborough in connection with the seizure remain on bail.
As part of the parallel financial investigation, the NCA has seized the SY Atrevido, as well as a second sailing yacht, the SY Mistral, three Rolex watches, a Panerai watch, and Tag Heuer watch.
Investigators have also obtained court orders to seize a third sailing yacht, caravans, five cars, two vans, and a house in France.
The court was told that Spanish police had put the boat under surveillance after being tipped off by the NCA.
It first sailed to the Canary Islands and then South America to pick up the drugs shipment.
Jayne Lloyd, NCA Regional Head of Investigations, said: “It’s thanks to the work of the NCA, Border Force officers, and the Spanish National Police, that two highly organised criminals are behind bars and that these drugs haven’t made their way onto the streets.
“Our investigation does not stop here; we are now going after their assets to strip them of their illicit wealth and make sure they don’t profit from their crimes.”