TWO Queensland men have been jailed for attempting to collect almost 50 kilograms of cocaine that had been stored inside a refrigerated container.

The pair, with alleged links to the Comanchero and Lone Wolf Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs, were found guilty on 31 May and sentenced in the Brisbane Supreme Court today (6 June) to a combined total of 23 years imprisonment.

The illicit consignment, worth an estimated street value of $19.4 million, was discovered by Belgian authorities onboard a vessel at the Port of Antwerp before being seized.

The container had been loaded onto the vessel in Panama in early 2020, passing through Ecuador on its way to Antwerp where it arrived February 2020, with Belgian authorities then discovering 42 small packages filled with white powder hidden inside a refrigerated container.

Authorities confirmed the packages contained cocaine before seizing them and allowing the container to continue its passage to Brisbane via the UAE and Singapore.

In June 2020 the container arrived at the Port of Brisbane and was transferred to a storage yard, after which the convicted pair reportedly made multiple visits to various yards in search of the container.

The pair used a ladder and tools to access the container they believed contained the drugs.

They used encrypted mobile devices for communication and travelling from the Gold Coast in a van registered in Western Australia, but replacing the number plates with cloned illegitimate Queensland plates when entering the Port of Brisbane area.

The Australian Federal Police searched rural property at Inverell, NSW and found the van inside an abandoned fossicking shack.

Both men were charged with attempted possession of a commercial quantity of cocaine.

AFP detective superintendent Adrian Telfer said the transnational organised crime was a global problem and required worldwide cooperation.

“Criminal syndicates involved in drug importations do not care about the harm they cause to Australian communities – from the violence between rival dealers that put innocent communities at risk, to the drug-driving crashes and the thousands of drug-related hospital admissions,” he said.