Belfast Telegraph

Man remanded over cocaine smuggling

A 45-year-old man extradited from Spain has been charged over one of the largest drugs busts ever in Ireland.

Stephen Brown was remanded in custody following a brief appearance at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, England, court officials confirmed.

Brown, accused of conspiring to smuggle a £330 million high-grade consignment of cocaine into the UK, will face trial at crown court.

The charge alleges he plotted to supply 1,500kg of the drug to dealers across Britain.

The trafficking plot fell apart at one of the most audacious hurdles, as a gang loaded 62 bales of cocaine weighing more than 3,300lb (1,500kg) onto a rigid inflatable boat (Rib) in the Atlantic swells off Mizen Head in south-west Cork in July 2007.

Court officials said Brown, of no fixed address and who was brought to London from Spain on Wednesday morning, was remanded in custody to appear again before Southwark Crown Court in London on July 3.

The smuggling plan foundered on a summer morning in 2007 as the bales of drugs were being transferred in Dunlough Bay from a catamaran called the Lucky Day on to a smaller boat. But the engines on the Rib cut out after one of the gang put diesel instead of petrol into the powerful outboard motors and the boat capsized in the heavy seas.

According to court officials, Brown was charged with conspiring to import a consignment of Class A drugs along with two other men, Michael Joseph Daly and Alan John Wells. The cocaine was found to have a purity level of more than 75%, and was traced to the Medellin area of Colombia.

A farmer on the West Cork peninsula helped raise the alarm over the Dunlough Bay incident after he awoke early in the morning of July 2 2007 to find a man in wet clothes at his door. The man, who had swum to shore from the Rib, was given dry clothes and tea and told the farmer not to call the police.

The alarm was raised when the farmer looked out on to Dunlough and saw another man on the boat battling against the heavy seas and called emergency services.

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