TWO British drug smugglers who attempted to import £570 million worth of drugs into Australia by yacht had their plans scuppered by a massive seal.
Graham Palmer, 37, and Scott Jones, 38 have been jailed for over 20 years for their role in the plot to smuggle a tonne of cocaine, ecstasy and meth into the country.
The pair were sentenced in the Supreme Court today, alongside the rest of the group, American Jason Lassiter, 47, Australian Angus Jackson, 53, as well as skipper Antoine Dicenta who has not been sentenced yet.
The five men attempted the elaborate scheme back in September 2019 after ironing out the details in Thailand, ABC News reported.
Dicenta and Palmer picked up the £553million worth of drugs in the 15m yacht named Zero.
While transfering the drugs Dicenta accidentally started recording and was later heard in court saying: "You have to put it inside before the other boat comes … this is not cocaine, this is the other thing, it's not heavy at all."
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After travelling for six weeks to Western Australia where they were meant to transfer the haul to another boat called DW 140 but they both ran aground.
Zero drifted on to a reef near Stick Island, which is located in the Abrolhos Islands group about 60km west of Geraldton.
They were all picked up by cops after fishermen spotted the vessels and alerted the authorities.
Dicenta and Palmer tried to flee to Burton Island but they came across a massive elephant seal blocking their way.
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Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue vice-commander Damien Healy told ABC radio at the time: “When they got on the island, the guys made a run for their tender [drugs] and there was this big, huge seal asleep between them and the tender.
“They woke it up and it jumped up with its big chest out and bellowed at them.
“The guys basically had the choice of going through the seal or getting arrested – and they ended up choosing getting arrested.”
Cops found 40 large bags of drugs stashed under seaweed and arrested Palmer and Dicenta.
Their three accomplices would be arrested a few days later in Perth.
Western Australia Police Force said that they “seized about one tonne of illicit drugs from a small island off the Geraldton coast after receiving information from the public about an apparently stricken yacht and the unusual movements of its crew.”
They were all taken to custody and claimed they were on a "boys fishing trip".
But they have all been found guilty in court.
Jackson and Lassiter were sentenced to 33 years jail, with a non-parole period of 23 years.
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Palmer was handed a 22-year sentence with a 15 year minimum, and Jones was given 25 years with a 17-year minimum.
Justice Corboy said while the men were not the organisers of the operation, they acted as couriers in the "highly sophisticated" importation.
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