Two men sentenced to 17 years’ jail each for record Australian cocaine seizure

A joint investigation intercepted the drug-filled vessel off the NSW coast near Newcastle.

Two people have today (29 October 2021) been sentenced to 17 years' jail each in relation to Australia's biggest ever cocaine seizure.

The record 1.89-tonne seizure is the largest cocaine seizure in Australian history and would have had a potential street value of approximately $1.289 billion.

A joint Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force and NSW Police Force investigation led authorities to intercept a drug-filled vessel off the NSW coast near Newcastle in August 2020.

The three crew members - a Hong Kong man then aged 40 and two Australian men then aged 27 and 32 – were arrested and charged with drug importation offences.

The two Australian men appeared at the Downing Centre District Court today (29 October 2021) where they were each sentenced to 17 years' imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 10 years.

On 16 October 2021, the men pleaded guilty to attempting to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely cocaine.

The vessel used in the attempted importation of cocaine was seized by the AFP and has since been sold as a Commonwealth forfeited asset.  

Acting Commander Matthew Ciantar said the AFP works closely with our partner agencies to stop dangerous drugs from reaching Australia.

"We will prosecute those who try to profit at the expense of our communities," acting Commander Ciantar said.

"Australians consume around 4.6 tonnes of cocaine annually* and this can have a devastating impact on our society. Our investigators are working night and day to ensure we intercept these dangerous drugs before they cause devastation to the lives of vulnerable Australians."

ABF Commander Port Operations East, Susan Drennan said this seizure was a great example of Australian law enforcement agencies working together.

"This seizure of cocaine – the largest in Australian history - has not only stopped millions of street deals, but also prevented more than a billion dollars entering the pockets of organized criminals" she said.

"The work of the ABF and our partner agencies has again protected the Australian community from enormous harm."

Note to media:

Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information.

Media enquiries:

  • AFP National Media: (02) 5126 9297
  • ABF Media: (02) 6264 2244

*Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report 2018-19

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