Former Olympic kayaker Nathan Baggaley found guilty of plot to smuggle $150 million in cocaine

Jack Baer
·2 min read

Back in 2004, Nathan Baggaley was winning two silver medals at the Summer Olympics in Athens. Now, the Australian is facing life in prison for attempting smuggle a jaw-dropping amount of cocaine into his country.

Boats are a common thread in both stories.

Baggaley, who won his medals in the canoe sprint, was found guilty on Thursday of attempting smuggle $152 million worth of cocaine into Australia, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Baggaley and his brother, Dru, who also was involved in the plot, will reportedly be sentenced later this month and face life in prison.

Nathan Baggaley of Australia paddles to the second place in the Men's K1 500 meter final to take the silver medal, during the kayak flatwater event at the 2004 Olympic Games in Schinias near Athens, Greece, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2004. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Nathan Bagley has an enormous rap sheet since the end of his kayaking career. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

During the trial, prosecution reportedly alleged that Dru Baggaley was caught on aerial surveillance video collecting 650 kilograms of cocaine from a foreign ship more than 360 kilometers off the Australian coast. Two hours after the boat was loaded, a Royal Australian Navy patrol boat began pursuit, leading to a high-speed aquatic chase.

Dru Baggaley was allegedly caught on footage dumping dozens of bundles overboard before being apprehended by Queensland water police. Nathan Baggaley was reportedly alleged to have been aware of his brother's plan and assisted him in buying the boat used for the pickup, adding navigation and satellite equipment before concealing the boat's registration.

Prosecution also reportedly alleged that Nathan was responsible for storing the drugs upon arrival from the sea.

Nathan Baggaley reportedly claimed he was unaware of the plot and believed he was purchasing the boat to start a whale-watching business. Both men pleaded not guilty.

Drugs ended Nathan Baggaley's canoe career

Both brothers had a considerable rap sheet before the incident in question, with drugs playing a role in the end of Nathan's canoe career.

Nathan, a three-time world champion in the single-man kayak event, saw his career be put on ice after testing positive for steroids stanozolol and methandienone. A 15-month suspension turned into two years after the International Canoe Federation reportedly refused to consider Baggaley's defense of having drunk from his brother's steroid-infused orange juice.

Baggaley's slide continued when he and Dru were arrested for manufacturing and trafficking ecstasy tablets in 2007. Police reportedly claimed to have seized 28,500 ecstasy tablets and a kilogram of MDMA powder during their investigation.

More arrests followed, including his involvement in a psychedelic drug syndicate and the theft of a water ski.

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