A 29-year-old Fijian national has been arrested and charged after Australian authorities in Sydney foiled an attempt to import 50 kilograms of cocaine concealed in a shipment of bottled water, Australian Federal Police say.
The consignment arrived on 10 August and was targeted for inspection at the Australian Border Force’s (ABF) Sydney Container Examination Facility. Officers deconstructed the consignment after anomalies were identified during x-ray and discovered the cocaine.
It is estimated the drugs have an approximate street value of $17.5m.
The consignment was referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for further investigation and on 17 August, officers located and arrested the Fijian national.
AFP investigators executed a search warrant at in Hurstville on Wednesday, 15 August, where they seized a number of electronic items and other material related to the importation of the consignment.
After further enquiries, AFP investigators arrested the individual yesterday. It will be alleged in court that the man was responsible for preparing the shipment for export from Fiji and travelled to Australia to collect it. Further enquiries are ongoing to identify any intended recipients in Australia.
ABF Regional Commander Danielle Yannopoulos said the concealment was no match for the skilled officers and world-class technology positioned at the Australian border.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see large quantities of drugs being sent to Australia and criminals use all sorts of concealment methods to try and beat our border processes,” Commander Yannopoulos said.
“Using a mix of intelligence, officer skill and intuition, and our recently upgraded x-ray technology, we are more than capable of detecting these drugs long before they can make it into the Australian community.”
The AFP’s Manager of Organised Crime, Commander Bruce Hill, said the arrest demonstrated the AFP and ABF’s shared commitment to stopping illicit drugs from destroying more Australian lives.
“This is an example of how Australian law enforcement works to keep illicit drugs off our streets and out of our homes,” Commander Hill said.
“We hope it sends a message that, if you’re thinking of importing illicit drugs to Australia, it’s simply not worth the risk. We will catch you eventually.”
The individual has been charged with one count of importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995. He is scheduled to face Parramatta local Court today.