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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Father and son charged over 66kg cocaine import

A Sydney father and son with alleged links to Middle Eastern organised crime have been charged with importing 66 kilograms of cocaine into Australia, with the drugs discovered in car tyres in Western Australia last week.

The men – aged 53 and 25 – were arrested in Perth after Police say they arrived on a flight from Sydney and travelled to a home in Nollamara to collect dozens of packages of illicit drugs. The contents of the packages, however, had been substituted with a harmless substance by Police after an earlier interception.

Police allege four West Australians also charged over the plot had already cut apart the four high performance wheels to access the 56 packages of white powder concealed inside. 

“The Sydney pair allegedly collected the packages, which had been placed inside bags and a cardboard box, and briefly stopped at a hotel before driving to a shopping centre in the Perth suburb of Belmont,” Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement.

Police will allege the two men opened at least one of the plastic wrapped blocks to test the contents before dumping all of them in a skip bin outside the shopping centre.

AFP investigators, assisted by ABF officers, swooped on the pair soon after they left the shopping centre, arresting them and then retrieving the dumped items.

AFP officers in NSW later searched the men’s family home in the South-Western Sydney suburb of Canterbury, where they seized items that will undergo further examination.

AFP Superintendent Graeme Marshall said the successful removal of cocaine with an estimated value of about $24 million from Australian streets would make the community safer.

“We suspect these men were planning to take the cocaine to the eastern states for distribution,” Detective Superintendent Marshall said.

“Drug trafficking syndicates will try any avenue they can to flood Australia with drugs because of the profit they can make, however the AFP is working closely with our Commonwealth partners to disrupt these syndicates and protect the Australian community.

“The cost of this greed is paid by the Australian community. Some of these costs can’t be measured – such as the impact on every frontline paramedic, doctor, nurse or police officer who gets assaulted by drug-affected persons; people living in fear of gang-related violence resulting in a stray bullet in their child’s bedroom; or someone whose parent, child, partner or friend doesn’t make it home because of a car accident with a drug-affected driver.

“The AFP will continue to attack drug traffickers’ operations, logistics, finances and communications – both onshore and offshore – to ensure the protection of the West Australian community.”

ABF Commander James Copeman said officers had intercepted the consignment of four wheel rims due to a number of anomalies, including a presumptive-positive result, using trace and substance detection technology.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s an MDMA tablet in an envelope, meth hidden in pillows or a tonne of heroin built into heavy duty machinery, the ABF has a range of sophisticated targeting methods which combine with our passionate officers who are determined to prevent these harmful substances from entering Australia,” Commander Copeman said.

ACIC Acting Executive Director Intelligence Operations, Thomas Hester said the result was another example of the importance of agencies working together to deliver impacts through their unique capabilities.

“By working together, we are preventing illicit drugs such as cocaine from reaching the community and we will continue to work with our partners to target those who profit from the trafficking of these drugs, with no regard for the harm they cause,” Mr Hester said.

The men have each been charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs and attempting to possess a commercial quantity of drugs.

Both offences carry a potential penalty of life imprisonment.

The men faced Perth Magistrate’s Court on Friday and have been remanded in custody to re-appear next Thursday.

The three WA men and a WA woman have each been charged with attempt to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

The AFP launched an investigation into the transnational drug trafficking enterprise after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers allegedly found the cocaine inside a consignment of four tyres imported from Switzerland.

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