Olympic canoeist convicted of smuggling 650 kilos of cocaine

Nathan Baggaley won silver twice at the 2004 Olympics – but lately the Australian has been making headlines, especially in court. Now he is facing life imprisonment for a drug deal that fell through.

The case had made for spectacular pictures in June 2018. They showed a failed drug deal off the east coast of Australia. Now two of the main culprits, ex-Olympian Nathan Baggaley and his brother Dru, have been found guilty by a Brisbane court. The sentence is still pending, but both could face life in prison because of numerous previous convictions.

Nathan had, according to the court’s assessment, bought and prepared the boat for the deal. On board he was not in the action later, but his brother and another person. They had attempted to take over some 650 kilograms of cocaine from another vessel far off the Australian coast. The drugs had a market value of about 200 million Australian dollars (about 130 million euros), according to the BBC.

However, the Australian Air Force, in cooperation with border police, had filmed the transfer from the air. In addition, a navy ship followed the criminals’ boat. During the ensuing chase on the water, video footage shows Dru Baggaley throwing numerous drug packages overboard.

Both Dru and Nathan Baggeley had pleaded not guilty to sydney criminal lawyers. Dru had claimed that he had suspected tobacco in the packages – and had been coerced into the plan anyway by the third person in the bunch. Nathan, on the other hand, explained that he had bought the boat believing it was to be used for whale-watching tours. None of these variants found much favor with the court.

Nathan was considered one of the best canoeists in the world at the height of his career. He had won two silver medals at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. That same year, the Australian Institute of Sport’s named him Athlete of the Year. Later, however, he tested positive for doping substances. He also racked up convictions for drug manufacturing in 2009 and 2013, for which he also served time in prison.