A COCAINE smuggler who was jailed for his part in a calamitous £200 million transatlantic drugs plot has died in prison.

John Powell, of Airedale Mews, Silsden, was given a ten year sentence in 2015 for skippering the 62-foot yacht Makayabella, which was intercepted off the Irish coast in September 2014 with 41 bales of the narcotics onboard. He had pleaded guilty to two charges of drug trafficking and importation.

He was part of a gang which centred on Guiseley and in which his son Stephen was the "main man". Other members were from a number of areas including Ilkley, Otley, Bradford and Leeds.

John Powell, who was 73, died in Wandsworth prison.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: "HMP Wandsworth prisoner John Powell (DOB 12/02/1944) died in custody on Tuesday 31 October 2017.

"As with all deaths in custody there will be an independent investigation by the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman.”

Powell suffered from a number of medical conditions and his lawyers had claimed the ten year sentence would effectively be a life sentence for him.

His son Stephen Powell, of Netherfield Road, Guiseley, was jailed for 16 years in 2014 for his "crucial role" in the plot.

Stephen's wife Dawn Powell, a 56-year-old grandmother, also of Netherfield Road, was convicted of money laundering but cleared of a charge of conspiracy to import cocaine.

Last year convicted drug smuggler James Hill was sentenced to 11 years in prison after the Court of Appeal overturned his original sentence.

Hill, who was 31 and from Ilkley, was originally convicted at Leeds Crown Court in September 2015 and sentenced to six years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to import over a tonne of cocaine into the UK.

John Powell was sentenced in Cork Circuit Court alongside two others.

The court heard of an error-strewn voyage from Venezuela towards the UK, which attracted the attention of the US, France, UK and Ireland.

One of the crew,who was a drug addict and alcoholic, broke his wrist en route and had ripped open one of the bales of cocaine to get high on his own supply to fend off hunger six days after the crew ran out of food.

Drinking water was also running out when the yacht was stormed by the Irish Navy in the Atlantic 200 miles off the south-west coast of Ireland.

Inspector Fergal Foley, a Garda investigator, said the vessel was in a grim state.

"To be quite blunt, they were delighted to see the Navy," he said.

The whole plot started to unravel four days before when another vessel, known as the Sea Breeze, had to be rescued from the Irish Sea after it ran out of fuel 18 miles off Rosslare, Co Wexford.

After being towed ashore, Irish authorities became suspicious at the large amount of food, drums of diesel, cannabis and satellite phones they found onboard.

Around the same time, a US merchant ship reported the Makayabella foundering in the Atlantic.

Cork Circuit Court was told Stephen Powell, 48, of Netherfield Road, Guiseley, was a "major player" in the UK drugs underworld and the "main man by a step and a half" behind the operation.