Hendrik Brugmans and Raymond Aalders were sentenced to more than 34 years in prison after admitting carrying nearly a tonne of cocaine across the Atlantic in their yacht.

Raymond Aalders, 47, and skipper, Hendrik Brugmans, 69 were arrested after their yacht, Golem was intercepted by a Border Force cutter off the coast of Rye in August last year.

Raymond Aalders, 47, and skipper, Hendrik Brugmans, 69 who have been sentenced for cocaine smuggling

Credit: National Crime Agency


The men, who are both Dutch nationals, were making their way from Curaçao in the southern Caribbean. Their final destination was believed to have been the Netherlands.

At the time of its interception off the East Sussex coast, the Golem’s navigation beacon was turned off and the yacht was listing noticeably to one side.

The 56 foot yacht was escorted into Dover marina.

A search by specialist Border Force teams revealed hundreds of packages of drugs concealed in specially made hides in a workshop, water tank, and underneath benches.

Forensic tests on the packages revealed the cocaine was 70 percent pure.

If adulterated and sold in the UK, it would have had a potential street value of around £120 million.

The cocaine found onboard the Golem

Some of the cocaine found onboard the Golem. Credit National Crime Agency


National Crime Agency investigators also found evidence that Brugmans was paid €1.2 million for making the trip.

Both Brugmans and Aalders pleaded guilty to importing class A drugs and were sentenced on 3 June at Maidstone Crown Court to 20 years and nine months and 14 years respectively.

The reviewing lawyer in the International Justice and Organised Crime Division at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Lorna Vincent, said:

“Hendrik Brugmans and Raymond Aalders smuggled nearly a tonne of cocaine, which has an estimated wholesale value of over £41 million. They hid the cocaine inside the yacht in a workbench, seat floors, a wardrobe and a fresh water tank.”

She continued: “The yacht was found seven miles off the South East of Rye within British territorial waters, where Henrik Brugmans was found as the owner of the yacht and Raymond Aalders was aboard.”

“The strength of our evidence left the two men, who were in pursuit of enormous profits, with no choice but to plead guilty. This case shows no matter how sophisticated the drugs importation, the CPS will work hard to bring offenders to justice,” concluded Vincent.