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300 kg cocaine labelled as coffee and cocoa powder seized

Police and border protection agencies seized a consignment labelled as coffee and cocoa powder from a business premises in Altona, Victoria. 300 KG of cocaine was concealed within the consignment. Street value of the consignment is estimated to be $ 105 million.

Investigation started with the arrival of a 34-year-old Mexican man at Melbourne International Airport on a flight from Los Angeles. On examination by Australian Border Force officers, a small quantity of cocaine was detected in the man’s possession.

Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF) detained the man and an investigation was initiated. The JOCTF is joint effort to control crime with officers from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF), Victoria Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).

As part of the investigation, search warrants were conducted at residential premises in Port Melbourne and Balaclava. Arrest of two Mexican males followed. Along with the 34-year-old Mexican man, a 33 year-old was also arrested at the Port Melbourne premises.

Charges leveled against the two were importation of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely cocaine, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code 1996 (Cth). For the 33-year-old, additional charge leveled was of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of cocaine, a border controlled drugs, contrary to section 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1996 (Cth). This can attract a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

AFP Commander John Beveridge in Melbourne said drug cartels are connected at local, national, and international level. AFP’s strength is in its active cooperation with partners at home and overseas. In this investigation, AFP used the AFP International Network and AFP post in Mexico and collected information on organised criminal syndicate and their activities across the globe.

Drug syndicates even use services of customs brokers to avoid suspicion of law enforcement agencies. In this case, information on the use of any customs brokers in Sydney is not available. It is observed that drug syndicates will continue to target Australia because Australians are prepared to pay a very high price for drugs including cocaine.


Agencies work together – yacht with $245 million worth cocaine sized

Joint team of investigators located a large commercial quantity of cocaine concealed within the hull of a yacht. On deconstructing the boat and examining the contents, 700kg of cocaine with an estimated potential street value of $245 million was seized.

Joint team consisted of investigators from the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad, Australian Federal Police (AFP), and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).

Beginning was with a joint investigation into the importation of cocaine by private vessels. Investigators identified a vessel travelling from the South Pacific to NSW and was monitored through Australian waters. Police seized 700kg of cocaine and arrested three men as a result of the multi-agency investigation covering international drug trafficking by sea. Being a well-planned criminal activity, the services of a Perth customs brokerage may potentially have been utilised to reduce the suspicion of authorities.

The team received support from Australian Border Force, National Gendarmerie, Tahiti; NSWPF Marine Area Command and PolAir. Specialist technical and surveillance officers from each agency also played their role in booking the offenders.

As part of the operation following arrests were made – a 68-year-old man on board the vessel at Toronto, 47-year-old man at a hotel at Warners Bay and 63-year-old man at a home at Islington. All were charged with import a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs. This can attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Along with this multiple search warrants were also executed across the Lake Macquarie area with the assistance of Strike Force Raptor. Warrants were also executed by AFP in Western Australia and Thailand. More arrests are expected in the near future since investigations are continuing.

According James Watson, ABF Acting Assistant Commissioner Strategic Border Command, this seizure is a huge win not only for our law enforcement partners, but for the Australian community. He also said that no matter how criminal syndicates attempt to try to circumvent the border, the ABF have the ability to stop them.


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