Sixth suspect in cocaine yacht probe hands himself in

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A 29-YEAR-OLD Leeds man being hunted by police over a plot to smuggle £100m in cocaine into the UK on a yacht has handed himself in.

The suspect, from the Halton Moor area, handed himself in at a police station in West Yorkshire last night and will be questioned today, according to the National Crime Agency.

Members of the navy stand behind what is believed to be around 80 million euro (�62.5 million) worth of cocaine which was taken from onboard the yacht Makayabella after the Irish Navy intercepted the vessel. PIC: PA

Members of the navy stand behind what is believed to be around 80 million euro (�62.5 million) worth of cocaine which was taken from onboard the yacht Makayabella after the Irish Navy intercepted the vessel. PIC: PA

He is the third person to be arrested in the UK in connection with the seizure of a yacht carrying a tonne of cocaine off the coast of Ireland on Tuesday.

Stephen Powell, 47, of Netherfield Road, Guiseley, was arrested following the seizure on board the yacht Makayabella last week, in an international operation involving the Irish Naval Service and the NCA.

He was remanded in custody when he appeared at Leeds Magistrates’ Court on Saturday charged with conspiracy to import cocaine, an NCA spokesman said.

Three men detained on board the yacht were also charged by the Garda Siochana in Ireland with possessing cocaine with intent to import.

Powell’s father John Powell, 70, of Silsden, West Yorkshire, appeared in a special sitting of Cork District Court last night, along with Benjamin Mellor, 35, of Bradford and Thomas Britteon, 28, of Grimsby.

They were remanded in custody and will appear by video link at the same court next Thursday.

Stephen Powell will next appear at Leeds Crown Court on October 13. A 43-year-old man has been released on bail in West Yorkshire.

The luxury yacht was found on Tuesday 200 miles off the south-west coast of Ireland.

The Yorkshire Post understands that officers from the National Crime Agency have raided homes in Bradford, Keighley and Guiseley and the Halton Moor and LS6 post code area of Leeds.

The yacht had been tracked by authorities in several countries as it left Venezuela, stopping off in Trinidad, before being stormed by an elite Navy squad 200 nautical miles off Mizen Head - Ireland’s most southerly point - in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Security sources said the plot involved landing the consignment on the North Wales coast.

The smugglers are believed to have planned to transfer the cocaine onto a smaller boat at sea before ferrying the illegal cargo to shore, a well used tactic of international drug traffickers known as coopering.

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