Three Sydney men have been jailed for a total of 15 years by the Parramatta District Court for their roles in importing packages containing a total of around 5kg of cocaine from Serbia.
Police say the illicit packages were addressed to fake addresses which were collected by two of the men who worked for courier services. They would then pass the parcels onto the third man for distribution across Sydney.
The investigation began in September 2020, after AFP investigators linked the importations to a Homebush man, 54, who allegedly received the illicit consignments from two other men – a Pemulwuy man, 37, and a West Hoxton man, 45.
The Homebush man was arrested in December 2020 shortly after the Pemulwuy man gave him a parcel, later found to contain about 649g of cocaine.
A search of the Homebush man’s vehicle and residence uncovered a further 1.6kg of cocaine, more than $7000 cash and about 100 empty parcels addressed to fake entities, which contained traces of white powder.
Police then executed a search warrant at the Pemulwuy man’s home, where they seized about $24,000 cash, drug paraphernalia, and numerous clip seal bags containing traces of white powder.
Further inquiries linked the West Hoxton man to the two men arrested, and investigators executed a search warrant on his vehicle and residence later than month. More than $36,000 cash and several parcels with a white powder residue were seized.
The parcels seized across all locations had identical packaging, concealment methods, and consignor and consignee details.
Police are working with international partners to identify the source of the drugs and anyone else involved.
AFP Superintendent Morgen Blunden said the operation demonstrated the AFP’s ongoing commitment to protecting Australian communities and keeping illicit drugs off the streets.
“While many air mail or air cargo imports may seem like relatively small amounts of illicit substances, combined they equate to millions of individual street deals and can cause significant harm,” Superintendent Blunden said.
“Illicit drug use also causes a significant burden to the Australian economy; the estimated total social costs for every kilogram of illicit drugs of cocaine is more than $640,000 through crime, loss of productivity, emergency treatment and increased health care costs.
“The community needs to be aware that their illicit drug use bankrolls violent transnational serious organised crime groups, who may also be involved in other abhorrent crimes such as human trafficking and sexual servitude.
“This outcome should serve as a clear warning to criminals operating at all levels of the supply chain. If you attempt to import illicit substances to our shores, you will be caught.”
The Pemulwuy man has pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. He was sentenced to 4 years and 7 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 2 years and 6 months.
The West Hoxton man pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, as well as dealing in money reasonably suspected to be the proceeds of crime. He was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 2 years and 9 months.
The Homebush man pleaded guilty to trafficking a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, as well as dealing in money reasonably suspected to be the proceeds of crims. He was also sentenced to six years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.