Three jailed over €400m Cork cocaine haul

Friday 08 May 2009 19.55
Castletownbere - Cocaine seized in 2008
Castletownbere - Cocaine seized in 2008

Three men charged in connection with the seizure of €400m worth of cocaine off the southwest coast have each been jailed for ten years.

It was the second biggest drugs seizure made off the Irish coast and the first made by Irish authorities outside Irish territorial waters.

1.5 tonnes of cocaine, with an estimated value of €400m, were seized when the 65-foot yacht 'Dances With Waves' was taken into custody around 150 miles off Mizen Head on 5 November 2008.

52-year-old Philip Doo, 44-year-old David Mufford - both from Devon in England - and 42-year-old Christopher Wiggins, who is English but has an address in Malaga in Spain, pleaded guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court in Cork last month to possession of cocaine for sale or supply.

They were arrested when gardaí, the naval service and customs officers boarded the yacht off the southwest coast.

The shipment had been identified by the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency and tracked by Europe's anti-drug trafficking agency Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre before Irish officials moved in.

Weather conditions at the time were described as atrocious, but gardaí say the risk to the boarding party was rewarded with a haul of cocaine worth more than €400m.

Initial estimates had put the value of the drugs at over €600m, but subsequent purity tests saw this figure revised.

The three men detained on board the yacht were arrested and charged with possession of cocaine. They have spent the past six months in custody awaiting their sentencing.

At the sentencing hearing this afternoon, Judge Patrick Moran described the quantity of cocaine as enormous and said it could have wreaked havoc had it got through undetected.

He said the three men knew exactly what they were doing and were involved in smuggling the drugs for money.