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Men admit smuggling £90m of cocaine in banana boat after raid at Sheerness docks


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Three men have admitted plotting to smuggle cocaine worth more than £90 million into Kent hidden by bananas.

The cargo, weighing approximately 1.4 tonnes, was discovered during an armed raid by the National Crime Agency and Kent Police during the early hours of December 20 last year.

1.2 tonnes of cocaine was found in a banana boat in Sheerness Docks during an early morning armed police raid. It is said to have a street value of £90 million. Picture: National Crime Agency
1.2 tonnes of cocaine was found in a banana boat in Sheerness Docks during an early morning armed police raid. It is said to have a street value of £90 million. Picture: National Crime Agency
1.2 tonnes of cocaine was found in a banana boat in Sheerness Docks during an early morning armed police raid. It is said to have a street value of £90 million. Picture: National Crime Agency
1.2 tonnes of cocaine was found in a banana boat in Sheerness Docks during an early morning armed police raid. It is said to have a street value of £90 million. Picture: National Crime Agency

The drugs were concealed on board a ship from Costa Rica.

Seven men, including a port security guard, were subsequently charged with conspiracy to import cocaine between November 5 and December 21 last year.

Now, Maidstone Crown Court has heard that Joel McCaughey, 31, from Castlefield, Manchester, Ian Woodward, 31, from Ware in Hertfordshire, and Kyle Davidson, 30, from Buntingford, Hertfordshire, are pleading guilty.

1.2 tonnes of cocaine was found in a banana boat in Sheerness Docks during an early morning armed police raid. It is said to have a street value of £90 million. Picture: National Crime Agency
1.2 tonnes of cocaine was found in a banana boat in Sheerness Docks during an early morning armed police raid. It is said to have a street value of £90 million. Picture: National Crime Agency
Aerial view of Sheerness Docks on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Peel Ports
Aerial view of Sheerness Docks on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Peel Ports

Four of their co-defendants - port worker Sam Elphick, 27, from Sheerness, Danny Laird, 38, of Buntingford, Hertfordshire, Darren Laurie, 50, of no fixed address, and Michael Turner, 54, also from Buntingford, Hertfordshire - all denied the same offence.

A trial expected to last four to five weeks was fixed by Judge David Griffith-Jones QC to start on June 20. The sentencing of McCaughey, Woodward and Davidson was adjourned until the conclusion of the trial.

All seven men appeared in court via prison video link and were remanded in custody. A bail application made on behalf of Elphick was refused.

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