Leeds trio face court over £150m drug yacht plot

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Two men and a woman from the Leeds area have been charged over a plot to import 1,000 kilos of cocaine into the UK on a yacht.

They appeared in court on Wednesday after being charged as part of a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation into the seizure of the Class A drugs by the Irish authorities. The drugs were found on the yacht Makayabella off the south-west coast of Ireland in September 2014.

David Webster, 44, of Rillmead, Otley, Philip McElhone, 29, of Freemantle Place, Halton Moor, and Dawne Powell, 56 of Netherfield Road, Guiseley, were charged with conspiracy to import cocaine.

Powell was also charged with money laundering, the NCA said yesterday.

All three appeared at Wakefield Magistrates Court on Wednesday and were remanded to appear at Leeds Crown Court on April 8.

Last year, Stephen Powell, 48, from Guiseley, was jailed for 16 years for his part in plotting to smuggle cocaine with an estimated street value of £150m into the UK.

The operation against the smuggling plot had involved the Irish Naval Service and the NCA.

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.

Investigators also seized a 25ft motor boat called Sea Breeze, moored in Pwllheli, north Wales.

Two men are awaiting trial in the Republic of Ireland in connection with the seizure.