A third man today admitted his role in Ireland’s largest ever drugs seizure.
David Mufford, from Devon, pleaded guilty to being part of an elaborate international smuggling ring caught with a record 1.9 tonnes of cocaine off the Irish coast last November.
The haul – worth up to €675m – was recovered by elite navy teams on board a yacht as it struggled to stay afloat in the Atlantic Ocean.
Mufford (aged 44) of Clennon Lane, Torquay, admitted possession of cocaine with intent to sell or supply during a brief hearing at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Two other British men – Philip Doo, from Devon, and Christopher Wiggins, from the Costa del Sol – pleaded guilty to the same charge last week.
The trio, who face anything from 10 years to a maximum life imprisonment, will be sentenced on May 8.
The three men were arrested 170 miles off the coast of Cork when a transatlantic drug trafficking scam was smashed about a month after the boat came to the attention of authorities in the Caribbean.
The vessel had been tracked by Europe’s anti-drug trafficking agency Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre – Narcotics (MAOC-N) before Irish officials moved in.
The navy, gardaí and customs swooped on the 60ft ocean-going boat, Dances With Waves, on November 5, acting on intelligence from agencies as it was tracked from South America.
Elite members of Ireland’s naval service were forced to board the stricken vessel under Operation Seabight amid fears that it was about to overturn in storm force winds.
The seizure – the largest in the history of the State – was discovered in the hull of the yacht, a McGregor sloop.
Mufford and his co-accused Doo (aged 52) from Rocklands House, Higher Manor Road, Brixham, Devon, and Wiggins (aged 42), with an address at Mirador de Costalita, Estepona, Malaga, were rescued and arrested.
Under armed guard, the crippled yacht was sailed to Castletownbere, west Cork, where plastic-wrapped bales which filled the yacht’s hull were unloaded and stacked on the quayside.
Some 75 bales of cocaine were discovered.
Senior drug officers said the stash was destined for dealers in mainland Europe.
Just 16 months earlier, Irish authorities seized a previous record 1.5 tonnes of cocaine – valued at €440m at the time – after an elaborate smuggling scam was foiled in the same part of the country.
Three Englishmen were jailed for a total of 85 years after being found guilty of smuggling the cocaine into the country. A fourth man, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.