When brothers Nathan and Dru Baggaley heard the guilty verdict today, it was a case of deja vu for the brothers who are no strangers to prison life.
When brothers Nathan and Dru Baggaley heard the guilty verdict today, it was a case of deja vu for the brothers who are no strangers to prison life.

Pills to cocaine smuggling: Baggaley brothers’ life of drugs

As the forewoman repeated the words "guilty" for each of the brothers Nathan and Dru Baggaley they shook their heads in disbelief, their faces flushed with emotion.

After a tense nine hour wait for their decision, the jury of ten women and two men found Dru guilty of attempting to import $200m worth of cocaine into Australia on July 31, 2018 and that Nathan helped him in his bid to smuggle the drugs dropped by South American men from a foreign freighter 360km off the coast of Byron Bay.

The men face the prospect of lengthy jail terms when they return to court for sentencing next week.

 

Dru Baggaley
Dru Baggaley

 

The verdict was a case of deja vu for the brothers who are no strangers to prison life.

Nathan, a three-time world champion and dual Olympian, and his younger sibling Dru, have been in and out of jail for drug crimes for more than a decade and in prison on remand since they were arrested on the attempted cocaine importation charges in 2019 and 2018 respectively.

The pair proclaimed their innocence throughout, with Dru claiming he was kidnapped and forced to take part against his will, and was duped into thinking it was tobacco.

Nathan claimed he had no idea that Dru was involved in anything illegal and had only helped his brother by arranging the purchase of the $107,000 high-powered boat used to bring in the drugs.

Nathan claimed he thought the boat was going to be used for Dru's new whale watching business.

The jury found that Nathan used the pseudonym "Thunderbutt" when he sent Coolangatta fishmonger Dru Baggaley, 36, an encrypted message while he was on his way back to the mainland after picking up the drugs.

"I'm on standby ready. Let me know what's," the message read.

And they disbelieved Nathan's denial that he tried to call his brother on the satellite phone while he was out picking up the drugs.

 

The containers of cocaine Nathan and Dru Baggaley attempted to smuggle into Australia.
The containers of cocaine Nathan and Dru Baggaley attempted to smuggle into Australia.

 

 

The jury found them guilty without knowing of the brothers' history in the drug business and their repeated claims that they had left it behind them, or that Nathan Baggaley named the boat used in a bid to smuggle $200m of cocaine "Medellin" when he registered the satellite phone - the same name as the cocaine capital of Colombia.

In December 2015 Nathan, from Byron Bay, who runs a business making fibreglass surf-ski's, and Dru, who helps run his parents oyster farm and owned a Coolangatta fish shop, were sentenced to at least two years and three months in jail for their roles in a cross-border drug ring that made thousands of illegal party pills and planned to produce 100grams of ice.

Police alleged the pills were set to be sold during schoolies week celebrations on the Gold Coast and in Byron Bay.

Both brothers pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to manufacture a border-controlled drug and manufacturing a marketable quantity of methamphetamine for helping to produce 18,000 tablets of the psychedelic drug 2CB and planning to produce ice in drug labs in Tweed Heads and the Gold Coast.

Dru Baggaley going to pick up the cocaine.
Dru Baggaley going to pick up the cocaine.

The 2CB pills were never sold and didn't make the brothers any money, and they also botched their bid to make ice from pseudoephedrine.

Nathan described his role in the 2CB drug production as a "gofer" who would fetch things and look for facilities.

Nathan was on parole at the time, and Dru admitted helping run the drug ring from his prison cell, as he had been behind bars since 2009 when the brothers were jailed for making ecstasy pills and supplying more than 1500 of them.

Nathan was sentenced to a non-parole period of five years while Dru was sentenced to a non-parole period of eight years.

Police first started looking at the Dru in 2006 when Dru came to the attention of Customs officers and Australian Federal Police for importing an industrial-sized pill press from China to Brisbane. He claimed the press was to be used to make fish pellets for a planned fish farm.

Nathan Baggaley at the 2004 Olympic Games.
Nathan Baggaley at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Months later Customs intercepted a package addressed to Nathan's home from a Chinese pharmaceutical company which contained parts for a pill press.

Customs told police it was the fourth such package to be received and paid for by the kayaker in the previous six months.

While awaiting trial Dru was caught on a covert tape recorded in prison by police giving a colourful description of his spectacular arrest at gunpoint by tactical police.

"This big boat come out of nowhere and it was f***ing Customs … (we were) like trying to avoid it … they were just still behind us and realised f***, not good," Dru told Nathan.

Dru told his brother they kept sailing towards the shore and, hours later, a second boat appeared.

"Black boat. All with f***ing army guys in it. They had like balaclavas … f***ing machine guns, like army-coloured machine guns. So they just come and it was all over. Just pointing guns at us. 'Dont f***ing move, I'll blow your f***ing head off'," Dru told his brother on August 15, 2018.

In response, Nathan laughed and exclaimed, "f***king hell!"

 

 

 

Originally published as Pills to cocaine smuggling: Baggaley brothers' world of hardcore drugs

Nathan Baggaley
Nathan Baggaley


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