An Offshore Powerboat Racer only named as Nico H. in the Bruges Criminal Court has been sentenced to 8 years in prison for importing 1 1/2 tons of cocaine.
Nico H. with business partner Marnix VR who both gave their residence in Holland were investigated by the Maritime Security Centre Belgium (MIK) in late 2015 while they were using 2 fishing boats to pick up packages of cocaine.
After a subsequent investigation of their bank accounts, large quantities of money were found to be deposited.
Prosecuting lawyer Christophe Bergez said in court:
Nico H. bought (a boat) Bounty II.
The boat left for Cape Verde on May 6 last year and moored in the port of Mindelo, where Nico H. was also present.
On May 29, the Bounty left again for Ostend.
Upon arrival at the Hendrik Baelskaai in Ostend, the investigators invaded the fishing boat.
At first, they found nothing, but on the second attempt, they found 1,538.2 kilograms of cocaine, packed in 65 bags behind a false wall in the ship.
The drugs had a street value of no less than 225 million Euros.
Nico H. was responsible for the financial and logistical side of the traffic.
He gave instructions to his crew and was an expert in boats as an excellent powerboat racer.
Among other things, he helped with the placement of the false wall.
Defence lawyer Thomas Gillis made a plea on behalf of his clients:
On arrival (into Cape Verde) my client and his colleague had an argument with the Polish (Bounty II) crew.
Nico H. sent them home and brought a new Polish crew members to Cape Verde.
Whether the drugs were loaded on board at that time and hidden behind the false wall, it could not be ascertained.
Nico H. claimed that the Bounty II left for Cape Verde without his knowledge.
The judge ignored all those arguments this morning.
Nico H. and Marnix VR received 8 years as the leaders of the drug gang.
The captain of the Bounty received 5 years in jail with a Dutch crew member who was given 4 and 2 Polish crew members were acquitted across the board.
The gang’s bookkeeper received 1 years jail time.