Sailor hid £133 million of cocaine in specially adapted yacht to smuggle it into UK

27 November 2019, 18:46

By Kate Buck

A Dutch sailor who was caught hiding 2.1 tonnes of cocaine worth £133 million in the hull of his yacht has been jailed for 16 years.

Maarten Peter Pieterse, 61, was intercepted in the SY Marcia around 120 miles off the coast of Cornwall on 18 July last year.

He was snared by the National Crime Agency, whose officers escorted the 60ft vessel into Newlyn Harbour to conduct a detailed search of what was being concealed inside.

Hidden inside a specially designed area of the hull in which 93 packages containing 1,661 individual blocks were found.

In total, 2.1 tonnes of high purity cocaine was recovered, with an estimated wholesale value of £50m.

If cut and sold on the street, the haul had an estimated value of £133m.

Maarten Peter Pieterse has been jailed for 16 years for trying to smuggling £133 million of cocaine into the UK
Maarten Peter Pieterse has been jailed for 16 years for trying to smuggling £133 million of cocaine into the UK. Picture: NCA
The packets were found in the hull of the ship
The packets were found in the hull of the ship. Picture: NCA

It took a team of Border Force search specialists two days to remove the packages.

At one point the search was halted following the discovery of a suspicious package in the bales of cocaine, but resumed after the all clear was given by a Royal Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal team.

Pieterse pleaded guilty at a hearing last year and was sentenced today at Bristol Crown Court.

Ty Surgeon, Operations Manager at the National Crime Agency, said: “I have no doubt these drugs were destined for Europe and the UK, to be sold by drugs gangs who are also involved in intimidation, exploitation and violence.

“We know the criminal trade in drugs is driven by financial gain, and the loss of the profit that would have been made from this seizure will have a major impact on the crime groups involved.

His yacht was intercepted off the coast of Cornwall
His yacht was intercepted off the coast of Cornwall. Picture: NCA
Another crew mate was found not guilty
Another crew mate was found not guilty. Picture: NCA

“The NCA continues to provide a key role in tackling criminal networks supplying class A drugs into the UK, and our work with partners at home and abroad to tackle the supply chain is vital to this.”

Another crew member, Emile Adriaan Jeroen Schoemaker, 45, who was arrested alongside Pieterse at the time, was found not guilty by a jury in June this year.

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