Grimsby

Grimsby drug smuggler jailed after attempting to ship over £80m of cocaine into UK

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A Grimsby man has been jailed for his role in an £80 million attempted cocaine smuggling ring.

David Pleasants, 57, was arrested off the Cornwall coast after he was caught trying to bring almost a tonne of cocaine into the UK.

He was jailed for 14 years at Bristol Crown Court.

Skipper Michael McDermott, 68, and fellow crew member Gerald Van de Kooij, 27, were sentenced to 16 and 12 years in prison respectively.

The boat was intercepted off the coast near Falmouth in August 2016, with Border Force officers boarding the vessel, detaining the crew.

There were 38 bales in total each weighing between 25 and 30 kilos. It took around two days to remove the drugs from the vessel.

In total the haul weighed 939 kilos.

Forensic experts found that the cocaine was between 60 and 70% pure, with a potential value of nearly £84 million.

It was the biggest single seizure of cocaine in the UK in 2016.

Pleasants and Van de Kooij had previously pleaded guilty but the three were sentenced together.

Mark Harding, senior investigating officer from the National Crime Agency’s border investigation team, said: “This was a huge quantity of cocaine, the biggest single seizure made in the UK in 2016.

“Michael McDermott used his specialist skills as a sailor to attempt to evade border controls.

“We provided solid evidence that led to his conviction and have taken out another means of transport used by organised criminals to bring drugs to Britain.

“His was a crucial link in a chain that leads from cocaine manufacturers in South America to drug dealers in the UK.

“In stopping this consignment we have prevented further criminality by the gangs who bring violence and exploitation to our streets.”

Mike Stepney, director of National Operations, Border Force, added: “The prosecution of this crooked captain and his criminal crew underlines once again how our close work with partners like the NCA is successfully keeping communities in the UK safe from a range of threats.”