Deborah Nash | 09.06.2007 00:39
GIB CUSTOMS SEIZE YACHT WITH 216KG COCAINE CARGO
• 4 Britons arrested
by Brian Reyes
Local customs officers seized a 50ft yacht loaded with 216 kilos of cocaine worth £8m. They swooped on the vessel GIN in the early hours of Tuesday as it sailed into Gibraltar from the Caribbean. A total of 183 slabs of cocaine were found stashed in sealed compartments at the stern of the yacht. Officers had to physically break into hidden cavities to find the drugs.
Four British nationals who were on board the vessel were arrested and appeared before the Magistrate’s Court yesterday facing a number of charges relating to the haul. Jonathan Kelway, Trevor Collenette, Martin Genocchio and Kathryn Burman are charged with possession and possession with intent to supply 216 kilos of cocaine. They are also charged with importing the drug into Gibraltar.
During a short appearance before Stipendiary Magistrate Chares Pitto, each of the four stood to confirm their identities to the court. Mr Kelway said they had nothing to hide. “We are innocent parties in this,” he told the court.
In turn, the other three crew members confirmed their names and agreed with Mr Kelway’s statement. All four were remanded in custody until June 12, when they are due to appear again before the magistrate.
HM Customs Gibraltar said the yacht GIN was stopped as a result of an ongoing “risk-profiling” operation, in which a number of issues are taken into account to target possible offenders.
Officers look at factors such as movement patterns and ownership, as well secret intelligence.
The yacht seized this week is registered in Gibraltar but is foreign-owned. Its beneficial owner has no links to the Rock, Customs said.
HM Customs Gibraltar also said there was nothing to suggest the drugs were destined for the Rock or that anyone here was linked to them.
This is the second major cocaine haul to be seized in Gibraltar in the last few years.
In 2003 HM Customs Gibraltar stopped a vessel carrying 550kg of cocaine.
Two persons were convicted in that case and sentenced to 20 and 18 years in prison.
Remember Martin who cycled with Crital Mass to Scotland for G8 summit. We really need your support and ideas to bring him and Kate home. THEY ARE INNOCENT!