Olympian's alleged link to international cocaine ring
OLYMPIC kayaker Nathan Baggaley is under investigation over allegations he played a role in a suspected international cocaine ring which picked up $176 million worth of the drugs off the northern NSW coast, a court has heard.
The Olympic silver medallist is on their radar after his younger brother Dru Anthony Baggaley, 36, was allegedly busted with 608kg of cocaine in his glorified dinghy off the coast on July 31, according to an officer from a joint federal and state police taskforce.
Detective Senior Constable Joseph Toohey has told the Brisbane Supreme Court, in Dru Baggaley's failed bail application, that the bust was "one of the largest reported imports of ...cocaine into Australia" and he was the "principal" in a "transnational crime syndicate".
Dru Baggaley, a fishmonger, of Coolangatta, has been charged with possessing a commercial quantity of drugs and drug importation, and the court heard he already has a "serious drug- related criminal history" and could be facing life in prison if convicted.
He was arrested with co-accused Anthony Draper, 53, from the Sydney suburb of Balgowlah, after they tried to outrun a Navy patrol boat in their glorified dinghy nearly 100 nautical miles east of Byron Bay on July 31.
"The police investigation is still continuing in Australia. Police have identified additional potential members of the syndicate in Australia, including the applicant's brother, Nathan Baggaley," Detective Toohey told the court.
Extraordinary pictures of the men in the boat were also tendered to the court.
Both men are yet to enter pleas to the charges and the case is ongoing.
Dru, who says he has been in a de facto relationship with Zoo magazine cover girl Jade Harland for two years, said it was tobacco and not cocaine, adding that he did not know the identity of others in the drug ring.
Harland is a former ex-girlfriend of arms dealer and drug kingpin Matthew Delander, who is serving a nine-year jail sentence.
Police allege Dru and Draper left Brunswick Heads boat ramp at 11pm on July 30, and sailed for 11 hours before they met a 55-metre red "mother" ship.
The ship's crew, who did not speak English, threw about 30 packages in the water, and Dru and Draper picked them up, police allege.
Draper allegedly told police that three hours later a Navy patrol boat spotted them and tried to board them, but he "panicked and accelerated" the boat.
While Draper steered at high speed, Dru is alleged to have moved around the dinghy "throwing the packages in the ocean", the court heard.
The pair thought they had escaped when the patrol boat stopped chasing them to pick up the 30 packages, the court heard.
But four hours later a Queensland water police boat intercepted them 65 nautical miles east of Byron Bay and they were arrested.
Nearly two months later, on September 26, kayakers Andrew Whitfeld and Roxanne Meaker were paddling at South West Rocks when they found "a black package wrapped in black netting" which turned out to be $7 million worth of cocaine.
They handed it in to police and tests show it is one of the missing packages thrown overboard, police allege.
The court heard that it was not the first time Dru Baggaley has been involved with drugs. Three years ago he was sentenced to two years and eight months prison for producing 18,000 tablets of psychedelic drug 2CB and planning to produce methamphetamine.
And in 2009 he was sentenced to nine years jail for manufacturing drugs, the court heard.