TWO British drug smugglers attempting to import £570 million worth of drugs into Australia by yacht were thwarted by a huge seal.
Graham Palmer, 37, and Scott Jones, 38 have received more than 20 years in prison for their roles in the plot to smuggle a ton of cocaine, ecstasy and meth into the country.
The pair were convicted in the Supreme Court today, along with the rest of the group, American Jason Lassiter, 47, Australian Angus Jackson, 53, as well as skipper Antoine Dicenta who has not yet been convicted.
The five men tried the elaborate plan in September 2019 after ironing out the details in Thailand, ABC news reported.
Dicenta and Palmer have collected the £553 million worth of drugs in the 15-meter yacht called Zero.
While handing over the drugs, Dicenta accidentally started recording and was later heard in court saying, “You have to put it in before the other boat comes…this isn’t cocaine, this is the other one, it’s not heavy at all. ”
After traveling for six weeks to Western Australia, where they had to transfer the catch to another boat called DW 140, they both ran aground.
Zero drifted to a reef near Stick Island, which is in the Abrolhos Island Group, about 40 miles west of Geraldton.
They were all picked up by the police after fishermen spotted the ships and alerted authorities.
Dicenta and Palmer tried to flee to Burton Island, but ran into a huge elephant seal blocking their way.
Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Vice Commander Damien Healy told ABC Radio at the time: “When they got to the island, the boys ran to their tender. [drugs] and there was a great, huge seal sleeping between them and the tender one.
“They woke it up and it jumped up with its big chest out and howled at them.
“The guys actually had a choice of going through the seal or being arrested – and in the end they chose to be arrested.”
Police found 40 bags of drugs hidden under seaweed and arrested Palmer and Dicenta.
Their three accomplices would be arrested in Perth a few days later.
Western Australia Police said they seized “about a tonne of illegal drugs from a small island off the coast of Geraldton after receiving information from the public about an apparently stricken yacht and the crew’s unusual movements.”
They were all taken into custody, claiming they were on a “boys fishing trip”.
But they were all found guilty in court.
Jackson and Lassiter were sentenced to 33 years in prison, with a 23-year non-parole period.
Palmer received a 22-year sentence with a minimum of 15 years and Jones received a 25-year sentence with a minimum of 17 years.
Justice Corboy said that while the men were not the organizers of the operation, they acted as couriers in the “highly sophisticated” imports.