The Newcastle music industry went into shock today as news broke that two well known local musicians have been arrested by police in Lake Macquarie for involvement in a huge importation of cocaine.
Saxophonist Craig Lembke (47), recognised widely for his work with jazz outfit Saxanova, and Kent Jackson (63), bass player with Misbehave, Big Bam Boom and the nationally successful Eighty Eights, along with Dennis Bath (68), faced Newcastle Local Court yesterday accused of conspiring to smuggle about $200 million worth of cocaine into NSW on a yacht from Tahiti.
After receiving intelligence about the planned delivery, police state that they tracked the vessel through Australian waters, monitoring it closely from when it arrived in Coffs Harbour last Friday.
But officers waited until Wednesday afternoon to approach the yacht, docked at Catalina Bay, south of Newcastle, allegedly with more than 700 kilograms of cocaine stashed in the hull.
From what is understood at the moment, all three were refused bail and will spend Christmas in gaol.
Lembke and Jackson are recognised regionally and beyond for their musical talent. As the news spread, many local musicians took to social media to express their feelings.
The news has been covered in media across Australia, from Newcastle and Sydney to Perth.
According to Perth Now, AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said detectives would be investigating whether the yacht was paid for using the proceeds of crime.
The trio has each been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug – an offence which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
All of their matters will return to court on January 30 next year.
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Photo – NSW Police