Cocaine courier jailed for seven and a half years

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, New South Wales Police, Fiji Police Force and New Zealand Police

A 34-year-old Sydney man who attempted to smuggle almost 40 kilograms of cocaine into Australia was jailed last month, following a Pacific Transnational and Serious Organised Crime (TSOC) Taskforce investigation.

The failed drug courier, who faced Sydney District Court on 15 August, 2020, was sentenced to seven years and six months behind bars, with a minimum of four years before being eligible for parole.

Suspicions were raised after the offender travelled on board a flight from Sydney to Nadi, Fiji without any checked luggage on 4 October 2019.

Upon the man’s return to Australia on 8 October 2019, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers inspected the man’s luggage and discovered 34 blocks of cocaine inside the bags, totalling 39.6 kilograms.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) charged the man with importing a commercial quantity of a cocaine.

Under Pacific TSOC Taskforce arrangements, a joint investigation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF), New South Wales Police, Fiji Police Force and New Zealand Police was launched.

Pacific TSOC detectives identified the offender was linked to a larger transnational organised crime syndicate, resulting in the arrest of an additional four men in Fiji, with search warrants executed across a number of locations between 22-23 October 2019. A fifth man was also arrested in Australia.

AFP Detective Superintendent Glen Fisher said the AFP remained committed to working alongside its Commonwealth, state and territory and international law enforcement partners to continue to disrupt and prevent serious organised crime from operating in the Pacific Island nations.

“The AFP is targeting domestic and overseas-based criminals, who for too long thought they were untouchable,” he said.

“With more than 100 AFP personnel posted in 33 countries, including the Pacific Island nations, the AFP has a unique international remit and operates one of the world’s largest, and most diverse international law enforcement networks.”

ABF NSW Commander Danielle Yannopoulos said the ABF is committed to stopping criminals smuggling drugs into the country, regardless of where they sit in the supply chain.

“ABF officers at Sydney Airport work tirelessly each day to protect the community from harmful substances. This is an example of their skills, intuition and diligence in stopping illicit drugs ending up on Australian streets,” Commander Yannopoulos said.

Fiji’s Acting Commissioner of Police Rusiate Tudravu said Fiji will assist all efforts made by the Pacific TSOC teams in disrupting criminal organisations as the illicit drug trade can seriously threaten the civility of life.

“We are sending a strong message that through our enforcement networks we are not going to allow criminal organizations to profit off our Pacific people and leave a trail of human and physical destruction brought about by the illicit drug trade”.

Pacific Transnational and Serious Organised Crime (TSOC) Taskforce was formed in February 2019 and was established to investigate organised crime groups exploiting the Pacific Island nations as hubs and transit points for illicit drug trafficking, money laundering and other transnational crimes.

The Taskforce works closely with the Pacific Transnational Crime Network to take intelligence received on transnational and serious organised crime matters and develop investigations in relevant jurisdictions, and helps strengthen participating Pacific Island nation’s responses against exploitation by organised crime.

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