THE AUSTRALIAN Federal Police has charged three men from Queensland for their alleged involvement in the importation and possession of about 560 kilograms of cocaine.
Police will allege in court that the three men were responsible for buying a boat and collecting the cocaine after a bulk carrier dropped it into the ocean off the coast of Western Australia.
The point operation was launched after intelligence was passed to authorities about a suspicious vessel.
On 9 August, ABF officers boarded a bulk carrier off the Fremantle coast after it was identified as a vessel of interest. The vessel was moved to the Port of Fremantle as part of an operation before departing for South Australia.
On 11 August, AFP and WAPF officers searched a property in Kalbarri, about 570 kilometres north-west of Perth. Officers allegedly located about 560 kilograms of cocaine wrapped in plastic.
A boat, two vehicles and about $30,000 in cash was also seized from the property in Kalbarri.
The trio, aged 49, 32 and 29, were arrested as part of a major joint operation involving the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Western Australia Police Force, and Department of Home Affairs on 11 August.
It is alleged the men were the Australian members of a transnational criminal syndicate that imported the illicit drugs into Western Australia by sea.
On 11 August, AFP searched a number of Queensland homes in Toogoolawah, Taigum and Redcliffe allegedly linked to the three men.
On Wednesday,16 August, the AFP, with the assistance of ABF, searched a bulk carrier in Port Lincoln, South Australia in relation to the operation.
A Toogoolawah man, 49, and a Taigum man, 32, from Queensland have been charged with importing and possessing a commercial quantity of illicit drugs.
The third person, a Redcliffe man, 29, has been charged with possessing a commercial quantity of an illicit drug.
They face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.
All men were remanded in custody and will next appear in Perth Magistrates Court on 22 September 2023.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Pryce Scanlan said the AFP worked tirelessly with its law enforcement partners to target and dismantle the operations of transnational criminal syndicates.
“The AFP and our law enforcement and intelligence partners across the country and offshore will continue to fight illicit operations and bring offenders to justice,” Assistant Commissioner Scanlan said.
“These arrests demonstrate that transnational criminal syndicates will go to any extreme in their attempts to import harmful illicit substances into our country. We are here to remind them, that they will be stopped and they will be prosecuted.”
ABF Commander Ranjeev Maharaj said cocaine was being intercepted and seized by officers at the Australian border in record quantities.
“Our border is one of our most critical strategic national assets and criminals should know that that our efforts will continue to detect, disrupt and dismantle transnational organised crime; criminal elements that seek to test the integrity of Australia’s border,” Commander Maharaj said.
“This is the second time in as many months that the collective effort of ABF officers and our law enforcement partners have successfully disrupted brazen attempts at bringing large quantities of cocaine along WA’s coastline.”