For This Former Olympian, It's a Trip to Prison

Australia's Nathan Baggaley sentenced to 25 years for 2018 cocaine-smuggling plot
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2021 11:53 AM CDT
$150M Cocaine Plot Involved a 2-Time Silver Medalist
Authorities seized these packages allegedly containing cocaine.   (Supreme Court of Queensland)

A two-time Olympic silver medalist and three-time world kayaking champion has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in a failed $150 million cocaine-smuggling plot. Australia's Nathan Baggaley, 45, and his brother Dru, 39, were convicted in April of attempting to smuggle 650 kilograms of cocaine into the land Down Under. Dru Baggaley and a third man, Anthony Draper, were arrested on July 30, 2018, after they were found to have traveled 225 miles offshore to pick up the load from a foreign ship, reports ABC Australia. They were pursued by the Australian navy, which had spotted Dru Baggaley collecting the parcels, per 9News. On parole during the operation, Nathan Baggaley was arrested nearly a year later, accused of spending around $75,000 on the rigid-hulled inflatable boat the men used, a trailer, GPS system, and satellite phone, per 7News.

At trial, lawyers argued the medal winner at the 2004 Athens Olympics had no knowledge of the operation, while his brother thought he was collecting tobacco. But Ann Lyons, a justice on Queensland's Supreme Court, said Nathan was "actively involved in the attempted importation of cocaine," of which his brother was a "principal organizer," and stood to receive a substantial reward. He was hit with a 15-month ban from kayaking for steroid use in 2005. The brothers were later convicted of manufacturing and supplying ecstasy and conspiring to make methamphetamine. Dru has spent more than 11 of the past 14 years behind bars, the court heard. Lyons sentenced Nathan to 25 years with a chance of parole in 12 years, and Dru to 28 years with a chance of parole in 16 years. She said Dru had recruited Draper, who received a 13-year sentence after pleading guilty. (Read more drug smuggling stories.)

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