Irishman charged in connection to drugs haul worth over €92 million

NewsBy Neil Fetherston
The €80 million coke seizure off Cork in 2015.
The €80 million coke seizure off Cork in 2015.

An Irishman has been charged in connection to a drugs haul worth over €92 million that was discovered in a vessel off the south coast of England.

Authorities recovered over a tonne of cocaine from the boat, following a joint National Crime Agency (NCA) and Border Force operation on Thursday.

Officers from the NCA and the Border Force Maritime Command carried out a dynamic boarding of the vessel Bianca, a British registered converted fishing trawler – in UK territorial waters just south of Falmouth in Cornwall.

Upon boarding the vessel the officers discovered approximately 50 bags suspected of containing cocaine.

The Bianca was then escorted to Falmouth where a full search was carried out.

The Irish captain, Michael McDermott, 67, and crew, Dutch National Gerald Van De Kooij. 26, and British National David Pleasants, 57, were charged with importing the cocaine and appeared at Bodmin Magistrates Court yesterday.

All three have been remanded in custody until their next hearing at Bristol Crown Court on 20 September.

This trumps the €80 million coke seizure made by Customs officers off the coast of Cork in 2015.

“A seizure on this scale is likely have a significant disruptive impact right along the supply chain, leaving criminals with large debts to be covered. And it will have knock on effects, disrupting further criminality that would have been funded by the profits of this venture,” said Mark Harding of the NCA’s Border Policing Command.

Border Force’s Director of National Operations Mike Stepney said the haul was one of the most significant drugs seizures ever made in the UK and a testament to the multi-agency approach adopted to secure the UK’s border and territorial waters.

“By working closely with the NCA and our other national and international partners we were able to intercept this vessel before it could deliver its £80 million of cargo to the UK.

“This seizure is a fantastic example of the vital role our officers play in preventing drugs from reaching the UK and keeping our communities safe.”

The NCA said the investigation is continuing.