Men in court over drugs smuggling operation

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Four men have appeared in court accused of a plot to smuggle £100 million (125 million euro) in cocaine into the UK, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has said.

Leeds man Stephen Powell, 47, was arrested following the seizure of around a tonne of cocaine on board the yacht Makayabella earlier this 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 today 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.

Meanwhile, Powell who is from the Guiseley area of Leeds, will next appear at Leeds Crown Court on October 13.

A 43-year-old man has been released on bail in West Yorkshire, while investigators have urged a sixth suspect, a 29-year-old man from the Halton Moor area of Leeds, to give himself up.

The luxury yacht was found on Tuesday in poor condition in the Atlantic Ocean, 200 miles off the south west coast of Ireland, while investigators yesterday seized a 25ft motor boat called Sea Breeze, moored in Pwllheli, north Wales.