Olympic kayaker Nathan Baggaley facing jail after smuggling £110m haul of cocaine
As a double Olympic-medal winning kayaker, Nathan Baggaley was always good at outpacing the competition. His drug smuggling gang, however, was no match for the Australian Federal Police when they were caught carrying out a multi-million-pound drug deal at sea.
Spotted by surveillance planes as they picked up more than half a ton of cocaine off the New South Wales coast, two of Baggaley’s accomplices attempted a high-speed getaway in their speedboat, hurling their cargo into the ocean as they did so.
But after a dramatic two-hour pursuit, they were eventually stopped by a boatload of armed officers from Queensland Police. Nathan Baggaley, whom prosecutors said was planning to meet the pair at a boat ramp and take storage of the drugs, was also arrested.
On Thursday, Baggaley, 45, who won two kayaking silver medals in the 2004 Athens Olympics, was found guilty of attempting to smuggle cocaine worth nearly £110 million into Australia. His younger brother, Dru, 39, who was in the boat along with accomplice Anthony Draper, was also found guilty at the same hearing.
The Supreme Court in Brisbane heard that after the bust in July 2018, police fished numerous large packages of the drug from the sea. Others washed up along the east coast in New South Wales and Queensland in the months that followed.
Baggaley, who was born in Byron Bay, New South Wales, was once one of Australia’s most prominent water sportsmen, being voted Athlete of the Year by the Australian Institute of Sport in 2004.
However, his adult life has been dogged by drug scandals, starting in 2005 when he was prohibited from competing for 15 months after testing positive for banned steroids. In 2009, he and his brother served jail terms after pleading guilty to manufacturing and supplying the dance drug MDMA.
In 2013, he served a further term behind bars for attempting to import 2C-B, a hallucinogen popular among clubbers.
In the latest case against him, the court heard that the Baggaley brothers teamed up with Anthony Draper to collect 650 kilos of cocaine from a foreign ship, crewed by South American smugglers, more than 200 miles out to sea.
Draper, who is already serving jail time for his involvement, agreed to testify against the brothers in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Both Baggaley brothers will be sentenced in the coming weeks, and may face up to life imprisonment.
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