Two men who hid £60 million worth of cocaine on a yacht travelling to the UK from South America have been jailed for a total of 33 years.
Officers from the National Crime Agency intercepted the boat approximately half a mile off the coast of Pembrokeshire in August 2019 after an investigation had identified it as carrying a large drugs shipment.
The vessel was then escorted into Fishguard port where officers discovered 751 kilos of cocaine with a potential street value of £60 million – thought to be one of the largest cocaine hauls in recent UK history.
Gary Swift, 53, and Scott Kilgour, 41, both from Liverpool, were arrested on board.
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.
Jayne Lloyd, NCA Regional Head of Investigations, said: “Today’s result shows what will happen if you try to flood our streets with millions of pounds worth of potentially deadly drugs – you will be caught and you will face the consequences.
“Drugs aren’t just damaging to the people that take them, they fuel violence and exploitation, damaging communities and leaving destruction in their wake.
“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.”
Deputy Director Steve Whitton, from Border Force’s Maritime Command, said: “The work of the crew of HMC Protector, as well as our specialist deep rummage search officers, played a crucial role in this case. Their work was a key part of an investigation which has ultimately put two significant drug smugglers behind bars.
“Border Force’s maritime teams will continue to work closely with the NCA to ensure organised criminals like Swift and Kilgour are caught and brought to justice.”