Two men who were caught carrying almost a tonne of cocaine off the coast of Rye have been jailed for a total of 34 years.
Dutch nationals Hendrik Brugmans, 69, and Raymond Aalders, 47, admitted to smuggling cocaine with a street value of up to £120 million and were jailed when they appeared at Maidstone Crown Court for sentencing on Friday (June 3).
The men were caught with the drugs hidden on a yacht known as ‘Golem’ around seven miles off the south east coast of Rye on August 31, 2015
Lorna Vincent reviewing lawyer in the international justice and organised crime division at the CPS said: “Hendrik Brugmans and Raymond Aalders smuggled nearly a tonne of cocaine, which has an estimated wholesale value of over £41 million. They hid the cocaine inside the yacht in a workbench, seat floors, a wardrobe and a fresh water tank.
“The yacht was found seven miles off the south east of Rye within British territorial waters, where Hendrik Brugmans was found as the owner of the yacht and Raymond Aalders was aboard.
“The strength of our evidence left the two men, who were in pursuit of enormous profits, with no choice but to plead guilty. This case shows no matter how sophisticated the drugs importation, the CPS will work hard to bring offenders to justice.”
The yacht’s skipper Brugmans was jailed for 20 years and nine months while Aalders was jailed for 14 years.
The conviction came after an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA).
In interviews with NCA officers both men admitted sailing the vessel from Curacao in the southern Caribbean. The boat’s destination was believed to have been the Netherlands.
Investigators also found evidence that Brugmans was paid 1.2 million Euros for making the trip.
NCA say forensic tests on the packages revealed the cocaine was 70 per cent pure, and if adulterated and sold in the UK could have had a potential street value of up to £120 million.
Matt Rivers from the NCA’s Border Investigation team said: “These two men were involved in an audacious plot to smuggle millions of pounds worth of high purity class A drugs into Europe.
“Their reckless attempts to avoid detection by breaching sailing regulations could have had extremely dangerous consequences.
“It is believed the final destination of the boat was to be the Netherlands but given the sheer scale of this seizure, it is likely that a large amount of the drugs would have ended up being sold on the streets of the UK.
“The NCA will continue to work with Border Force to disrupt the organised criminals involved in trafficking cocaine to Europe and the UK.”
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