Authorities have charged three men in connection with a staggering $224 million cocaine seizure off the coast of Western Australia. The Queensland trio, aged 49, 32, and 29, were apprehended following raids in multiple states on August 11. The drugs, weighing a massive 560kg, were reportedly found wrapped in plastic at a residence in the coastal town of Kalbarri, located approximately 570 kilometers from Perth.
Law enforcement officials assert that the accused individuals allegedly purchased a boat and collected the cocaine after a bulk carrier vessel had surreptitiously dropped it into the ocean. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has stated that if found guilty, the defendants could face life imprisonment.
Alongside the substantial drug seizure, authorities also confiscated a boat, two vehicles, and $30,000 in cash from the Western Australian property. Additionally, Queensland properties linked to the suspects, located in Toogoolawah, Taigum, and Redcliffe, were searched by law enforcement.
The joint operation involving the AFP, Australian Border Force (ABF), Western Australia Police Force, and Department of Home Affairs was initiated after receiving a tip-off about a suspicious vessel. The vessel, a bulk carrier traveling from Fremantle, was subsequently searched upon arrival in Port Lincoln, South Australia.
Cocaine-related hospitalizations in Australia have been on the rise, with 1,800 cases recorded between 2020 and 2021, exerting significant strain on the healthcare system. ABF Commander Ranjeev Maharaj emphasized that Australian authorities are intercepting and seizing record quantities of the “highly addictive” drug at the nation’s borders.
“This is the second time in as many months that the collective effort of ABF officers and our law enforcement partners have successfully disrupted brazen attempts at bringing large quantities of cocaine along WA’s coastline,” Maharaj acknowledged.
The accused individuals, a 49-year-old from Toogoolawah and a 32-year-old from Taigum, have been charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine into Australia, as well as possession of the illicit substance. The 29-year-old from Redcliffe faces charges of possessing a commercial quantity of cocaine. All three defendants appeared before court and have been remanded in custody until their next hearing on September 22 at the Perth Magistrates Court.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What were the charges against the three men in Western Australia?
The three men from Queensland were charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine into Australia and possessing the illicit substance.
2. How much cocaine was seized in the operation?
Law enforcement officials confiscated a massive 560kg shipment of cocaine, estimated to be worth $224 million.
3. Where was the cocaine discovered?
The drugs were allegedly found wrapped in plastic at a residence in the small coastal town of Kalbarri, located around 570 kilometers from Perth.
4. What other items were seized during the raids?
In addition to the significant drug haul, authorities confiscated a boat, two vehicles, and $30,000 in cash from the Western Australian property.
5. When will the accused individuals appear in court?
The three defendants have been remanded in custody and are scheduled to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court on September 22.