NSW Police Force disrupts conspiracy to supply $900 million of cocaine

The NSW Police Force, together with the NSW Crime Commission, have charged three men, who are allegedly part of a transnational organised criminal syndicate involved in a conspiracy to supply three tonnes of cocaine throughout NSW.

In early 2020, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad received information relating to an individual gambling a significant amount of money at a casino.

Those inquiries led to the establishment of Strike Force Jillabenan, a joint investigation with the NSW Crime Commission, to investigate the large-scale supply of prohibited drugs – mainly cocaine – across NSW.

During the course of the investigation, detectives uncovered a significant transnational organised crime syndicate facilitating the importation of illicit drugs, operating across Australia and North and South America.

A collaborative international police operation was subsequently commenced between Strike Force Jillabenan investigators, with assistance from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Acting on intelligence information from NSW Police Force investigators, the United States Navy (USN) seized 870kg of cocaine, after intercepting a vessel travelling in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Colombia in October last year.

Following further inquiries by the NSW Police Force, the United States Coast Guard seized a further 900kg of cocaine, after intercepting a second vessel travelling off the coast of Ecuador in April this year.

Police will allege in court that both seizures formed part of a conspiracy to supply a total of 3000kg of cocaine – including the 1770kg seized – which has a total estimated potential street value of $900 million.

As part of ongoing inquiries, Strike Force Jillabenan investigators constructed a replica of the items seized in April, which was taken to a storage facility in the Lake Macquarie area.

Just after 8.30am yesterday (Thursday 3 June 2021), a 42-year-old man was arrested with assistance of the Tactical Operations Unit (TOU) and PolAir after allegedly attempting to access the items.

A second man – aged 37 – was arrested by the Tactical Operations Unit at a car park nearby.

Both men were subsequently taken to Toronto Police Station.

The 42-year-old Mortdale man was charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply prohibited drug (large commercial), large commercial drug supply and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.

The 37-year-old Rockdale man was charged with large commercial drug supply.

The pair have been refused bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court today (Friday 4 June 2021).

Shortly after the arrests, the Organised Crime Squad executed five search warrants at homes at Mortdale, Paddington, Regents Park, Rockdale and Sans Souci.

The operation was also assisted by officers from Lake Macquarie Police District, the Raptor Squad, Central and South West Metropolitan Operations Support Groups, and the Public Order and Riot Squad.

During the searches, investigators located and seized cash, electronic devices, documentation, and numerous mobile phones, including various encrypted devices.

A third man – aged 58 – was arrested at the Sans Souci property and taken to St George Police Station.

The man was charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply prohibited drug (large commercial), two counts large commercial drug supply and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.

He was also refused bail to appear at Parramatta Local Court today.

Investigations by Strike Force Jillabenan detectives are continuing.

Anyone with information relating to the importation or supply of illicit drugs is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.

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