Hull Man is Ninth to be Jailed Over Cocaine Plot

15 March 2016, 14:35 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

A ninth person has been jailed in connection with the interception of a yacht carrying cocaine with a street value of more than £160 million off the south-west coast of Ireland.

The Makayabella was stopped in September 2014 by the Irish Navy which found more than a tonne of the drug aboard.

Wayne Bush, 45, formerly of Ormonde Avenue in Hull, pleaded guilty to conspiring to import class A drugs at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday, the National Crime Agency (NCA) confirmed.

He was sentenced to a six-year prison sentence to add to three-and-a-half years he is already serving in relation to unrelated offences, the NCA said.

Bush is the sixth person to be jailed by British courts in relation to the Makayabella incident.

Others convicted include ringleader Stephen Powell, 49, of Netherfield Road in Guiseley, Leeds, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

Three men who were on the vessel when it was stopped have been handed sentences of between eight and 10 years by the Irish courts.

The NCA said Bush was part of a three-man crew which was due to sail out and meet the 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 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 the 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. A marina compliments slip with both Powell and Bush's fingerprints on it was also discovered.

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.''