Olympic Medallist Found Guilty in $200 Million Cocaine Smuggling Plot

April 1, 2021 Updated: April 2, 2021

Australian Olympic silver medalist Nathan Jon Baggaley, and his younger brother, were found guilty of trying to smuggle $200 million worth of cocaine into Australia.

Nathan, 45, a world champion kayaker, and brother Dru Anthony Baggaley, 39, were found guilty by the Brisbane Supreme Court on Thursday for plotting to smuggle 650 kg (1,433 lbs) of cocaine into Australia.

The two have been on trial since March 18. Both plead not guilty to trying to import a commercial amount of the border-controlled drug cocaine into Queensland at Coolangatta on the Gold Coast between December 2017 and August 2018.

Dru and boat driver Anthony Draper were arrested in July 2018, after a chase as dramatic as “a script from a James Bond film–a game of cat and mouse on the high seas,” the Olympian’s defence lawyer Anthony Kimmins said, as reported by Brisbane Times.

On July 31, 2018, Dru and Draper left the NSW coast on a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB), which was later loaded up with black bundles of cocaine, valued at around $100-200 million, from a larger foreign vessel.

About two hours later, a navy patrol boat ordered them to stop and chased them as they made their way back to shore. Footage viewed in court revealed that Draper tried to outrun the navy boat while Dru threw the “incredibly valuable cargo into the ocean,” according to Ben Power, the crown prosecutor.

The two were arrested at last before reaching the shore, with the navy ship finding a total of 587 kg of cocaine on board the RHIB and bundles were found along the Queensland coast as far as Yeppoon months after.

The Olympian was arrested about a year later in June 2019 after police searched his home in Byron Bay. He was charged with aiding and abetting the smuggling by buying and equipping the boat, as well as covering the boat’s registration number with tape and planning to meet the boat with cocaine on its return.

Draper, the boat driver, pleaded guilty of involvement earlier and was sentenced for 13 years in February last year, but the sentence was reduced to a non-parole period of four years and three months after he agreed to testify against the Baggaleys.

The sentencing date for the Baggaley brothers has yet to be decided.