POLICE have charged two people over their alleged involvement in a plot to import more than 460 kilograms of cocaine from Colombia into Western Australia.
The Australian Federal Police arrested a French man and a Swiss woman as part of an investigation involving the AFP and the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
The AFP and DEA have been investigating a drug trafficking syndicate targeting Australia.
The man and woman allegedly collected about 100 kilograms of cocaine from a storage unit in Belmont, WA in May and took the packages to a residence in Perth’s northern suburbs.
The AFP searched the home and allegedly found the packages from the consignment as well as cocaine purity tests.
Police seized 460 kilograms of cocaine during the investigation, contained in 398 plastic-wrapped packages. They estimate the cocaine could have been sold as 2.3 million “street deals” for a total of around $184 million.
AFP Inspector Chris Colley said it is believed the man and woman arrived in Australia in mid-May. Police were investigating whether they had flown in solely to help distribute the drugs.
The pair was arrested on 1 June 2023, and first appeared in court on 2 June 2023.
They are expected to appear in Perth Magistrates Court on Friday 14 July, each charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of unlawfully imported border controlled drugs. The maximum penalty for the offence is life imprisonment.
Inspector Colley said this operation was unfolding at the same time as the AFP worked with state and federal partners to prevent another 850 kilograms of cocaine being imported via WA and distributed to Australian communities by a different organised crime syndicate.
The AFP was part of an investigation into an organised crime syndicate that attempted to smuggle 850 kilograms of cocaine into WA hidden on a bulk carrier. The master and chief engineer were charged as part of that investigation.
“Transnational serious organised crime is a national security threat and the illicit drugs TSOC groups supply to Australia make our communities less safe,” Inspector Colley said.
“Territorial drug disputes spill into suburbs and put innocent people at risk, drug-affected drivers are a menace on the roads and the money spent on illicit drugs diverts millions of dollars from the legitimate economy.
“That is why the AFP works closely with law enforcement and intelligence partners locally and internationally to disrupt these groups that seek to harm Australians and profit at the expense of our communities.”
The investigation is ongoing to identify everyone involved in Australia and South America.