Media Release: 135kg of cocaine seized, five arrested

Release Date: Friday, December 07 2012, 10:38 AM

This is a joint media release with Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service have dismantled its third international drug syndicate in three weeks, seizing 135 kilograms of cocaine following a three month investigation.

The AFP has arrested a total of five men who are alleged to be involved in the importation of the narcotics with an estimated street value worth up to $77 million.

The joint operation began in September 2012, when Customs and Border Protection officers inspected a shipment that had arrived into Sydney from Chile.

The search revealed significant quantities of cocaine and the matter was then referred to the AFP for further investigation.

Following a complex investigation, the AFP executed a total of 13 search warrants across Sydney and Brisbane following the arrests.

AFP Manager Crime Operations, Commander Jennifer Hurst said the AFP continues to deliver results for the Australian community when it comes to combatting organised crime.

“The AFP has seized almost 700kg of illicit drugs in the past several weeks as a result of three separate investigations.  These results should send a clear and lasting message to criminals that the AFP will not rest in the fight against organised crime,” Commander Hurst said.

“This operation shows that police continue to disrupt sophisticated criminal enterprises involved in the importation of illicit drugs and will continue to identify and arrest those involved in this type of activity.”

Customs and Border Protection National Manager Cargo Operations Jagtej Singh said that this operation shows the continued dedication of our officers and partner agencies to protect the Australian community from these dangerous substances.

"We will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners and utilise all the tools available to us to disrupt these criminal syndicates," Mr Singh said.

"Today's result continues to show the effectiveness of our methods and people in preventing the importation of importing illegal substances and drugs.”

The AFP arrested a 55-year-old Arncliffe man and a 49-year-old Arncliffe man yesterday (6 December 2012) and are expected to appear in Sydney Central Local Court today (7 December, 2012).

Both men have been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely cocaine, contrary to section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995, by virtue of section 11.1.

The 49-year-old Arncliffe man has also been charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely cocaine, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995, by virtue of section 11.5.

A 49-year-old Italian man and a 41-year-old Croydon Park man appeared in court yesterday (6 December 2012) after being arrested by the AFP on 5 December, charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

A 45-year-old Mexican man is expected to appear in Sydney Central Local Court today (7 December 2012) after being arrested by the AFP on 5 December, charged with both conspiracy to import and attempt to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.

Enquiries are continuing and the AFP has not ruled out further arrests. As this matter is ongoing, the AFP will be making no further comment.

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media (02) 6131 6333
Customs and Border Protection Media (02) 6275 6793