A Hull man has been jailed for an additional six years after admitting his part in a conspiracy to sail more than a tonne of cocaine into the UK on a yacht.
Wayne Bush, 45, is the ninth person to be convicted over the plot, which centred on the yacht Makayabella, intercepted by the Irish Navy of the south-west coast of Ireland in September 2014.
Cocaine found on board would have had a potential likely street value in excess of £160 million had it been cut and sold in the UK, where the vessel was headed.
National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators found that Bush was part of a three man “coopering crew” who were due to sail out and meet Makayabella to bring back the drugs.
Another attempt to meet the boat had previously failed after running out of fuel. The three men on board, including ringleader Stephen Powell, had to be towed back to port.
Two days later Powell and another gang member, James Hill, met with Bush and unsuccessfully attempted to buy another boat at a marina in Milford Haven, south Wales.
After learning that Makayabella had been intercepted and the drugs seized, the three men dumped the car they were travelling in at Cardiff Airport.
When the car was searched, six drums containing red diesel for the planned boat trip were found in the boot (below).
A marina compliments slip with both Powell and Bush’s fingerprints on it was also discovered.
Bush, formerly of Ormonde Avenue in Hull, was later sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for an unrelated assault offence, but in June 2015 he was arrested by the NCA at HMP Humber in connection with the Makayabella plot.
He pleaded guilty to conspiring to import class A drugs and at Leeds Crown Court yesterday, 15 March, he was sentenced to a six year prison sentence, to serve consecutively to the three-and-a-half years he’s already serving.
David Norris, NCA regional commander, said: ‘Wayne Bush played an important role in this conspiracy – he was to have formed part of the crew who landed this huge haul of drugs in the UK after the crime group transported them across the Atlantic.
‘His conviction means nine members of this organised crime network are now behind bars either here or in Ireland.
‘During this operation we drew on support from law enforcement partners in France, Ireland and Venezuela. It shows that the NCA has the capability to disrupt and bring to justice those involved at the top end of international drug trafficking.’
Tarryn McCaffrey, reviewing lawyer in the Organised Crime Division at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘Bush’s role in this major drugs conspiracy was to assist in a second attempt to rescue the yacht when it broke down in order to transfer one tonne of cocaine to another boat out at sea. Thankfully, attempts to find another boat were unsuccessful. Had the plan succeeded, £164 million worth of drugs would have landed on Britain’s streets.
‘This case shows that each and every member of a gang can be successfully prosecuted for their involvement in these crimes, even if they are part of a large organised crime group.’
The latest convictions mean eight people are now behind bars in connection with the Makayabella smuggling attempt.
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