Naval Forces/Photocall Ireland

Fourth man appears in court over cocaine seizure off Irish coast

The man was charged last night by police in the United Kingdom.

A FOURTH MAN has appeared in court in relation to the seizure of €80 million worth of cocaine off the Irish coast.

The UK’s National Crime Agency said that Stephen Powell (47) was charged last night with conspiracy to import cocaine.

He appeared before Leeds Magistrates Court this morning, and is the forth man to be charged following last Tuesday’s seizure.

The Inter Agency operation, consisting of units from the Naval Service, Gardaí and Customs,  was conducted using two naval vessels, in challenging conditions between 200 and 300 miles West South West of Mizen Head.

It is believed that the drugs have a street value of between €70 million and €80 million, but tests are still to be carried out.

It is one of the biggest hauls of drugs in Ireland in the past 10 years and one of the largest in Europe so far this year.

The operation, which came after weeks of surveillance, saw Irish agencies board the yacht Makayabella in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The three men detained on the yacht, named as John Powell (70) from West Yorkshire, Benjamin Mellor (35) from Bradford, and Thomas Britteon (28) from Grimsby, appeared before a special sitting of Cork District Court last night, charged with possessing cocaine with intent to import.

The three were remanded in custody and will appear before the same court by video link next Tuesday, the NCA said.

Originally published 12.22pm

PICTURES: Four being questioned following seizure of a tonne of cocaine >