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Drug smugglers jailed after cocaine plot ended in North Sea rescue

Drug smugglers jailed after cocaine plot ended in North Sea rescue

by Tom Martin (February 2021)

Two men from Skelmersdale have been jailed after they were caught stranded on a jet ski in the North Sea with £200,000 worth of cocaine in a back pack. 

Steven Brogan, 36, and Anthony Reilly, 34, both of Skelmersdale, were trying to smuggle drugs into the country from the Netherlands.

The men were arrested after a helicopter crew alerted police to suspicious behaviour and they had to be rescued by the HM Coastguard helicopter from Hull and airlifted to hospital.

Brogan and Reilly had travelled from Lowestoft, Suffolk, to the Netherlands to collect drugs valued at up to £200,000.

Both admitted importing Class A drugs at Ipswich Crown Court.

The judge, Recorder Richard Christie QC, jailed Brogan for seven years and six months and Reilly, who admitted to the offence before his co-defendant, for seven years.

Prosecutor Hugh Vass told the court on their return journey, Brogan and Reilly approached a survey vessel and "asked the crew for some fuel - that request was refused".

"At one point they were pitched into the sea," said Mr Vass, adding one man was showing signs of hypothermia and the other of exhaustion.

Brogan claimed to officers that he had been "fishing... but ran into difficulty", before a backpack containing 2kg of cocaine was discovered.

Officers later found a van owned by Brogan containing maps of the North Sea, a pick-up point in the Netherlands, tide timetables, a mobile phone and diving equipment, Mr Vass said.

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