The captain of a cargo ship has been charged over his role in the attempted smuggling of 320 kilograms of cocaine onto Western Australia’s shores.
- Police have charged three men over a $ 128 million drug bust
- The drugs came into Australia on a bulk carrier, police claim
- The cocaine was allegedly dumped in the water and picked up
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) allege the 51-year-old man from Montenegro carried cocaine, worth about $ 128 million, on a bulk shipping carrier called Interlink Veracity that he was in charge of.
It’s claimed the man loaded the drugs onto the cargo vessel at an overseas port, then traveled into Australian waters.
On May 14 the drugs, wrapped in plastic packaging, were dumped into the ocean about 28 miles off Port Hedland in WA’s north-west, police said.
The packages were then retrieved by two men who had sailed out on a small boat.
A 49-year-old New South Wales man and a 37-year-old German national were arrested the next day for collecting the commercial quantity of cocaine.
Police will allege they found the drugs, wrapped in 1kg blocks, in a campervan in Port Hedland.
Police say a forensic examination of the ship captain’s mobile revealed messages relating to the drug smuggling attempt, after which the man was also arrested.
AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner John Tanti said the initial arrests were only the beginning of a multi-agency investigation into the alleged drug trafficking enterprise.
“Trusted insiders are one of the highest threats to the integrity of Australia’s cargo supply chains,” he said.
“Crime syndicates rely on people who are willing to abuse the access and influence they have through their employment to help bring illicit drugs into Australia, as the accused is alleged to have done in this case.”
WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said the joint investigation between WA Police, the AFP and Australian Border Force will aim to “systematically pull apart” drug syndicates.
“We will pursue you regardless of your role or your location in the world,” he said.
The captain has been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, and is due to appear at South Hedland court today.
The offense carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
The two men who allegedly collected the drug packages have been remanded in custody and are due to appear in court on June 15.
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