Renowned Bulgarian sailor 20 Years in Prison for drug haul

White Swallow - the yacht they used
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A prominent Bulgarian sailor has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting to smuggle nearly half a ton of cocaine. He was arrested in April this year in Martinique.

The Class 40 yacht called 'The White Swallow ' was monitored as it set out from Slovenia, headed for the Azores and the Canary Islands, Cape Verde and Trinidad and Tobago. There, the two Bulgarians stayed at a hotel where they are believed to have been recruited to serve as 'mules'.

FRANCE, Saint-Malo : Bulgarian skipper Dimitar Topalov of the monohull "White Swallow" poses October 26, 2010 in Saint Malo western France before the 9th edition of the Route du Rhum sailing race to start on October 31, 2010. The "Route du Rhum - Banque Postale" is a solo race held every four years between Saint-Malo to Pointe-a-Pitre (French West Indies). AFP PHOTO / FRED TANNEAU (Photo credit should read FRED TANNEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
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The two men are believed to have pulled aboard their yacht 10 bags of white powder, 200 miles south of Guadeloupe, where the bags tied to buoys were thrown into the ocean from a Venezuelan container.

Dimitar Topalov, who vied last year for the most prestigious yachtsmen award in Bulgaria 'Golden globe', and his partner Plamen Vassilev were detained after their vessel was followed closely by the French authorities with special surveillance devices and video cameras.

The operation was conducted jointly with the Bulgarian and Spanish services. Topalov and Vassilev were to pocket EUR 30 000 for smuggling 480 kilograms of cocaine from Trinidad and Tobago to Spain, according to the French authorities.

Officially the two sailors were in the Caribbean to take part in a regatta