Syndicate charged over conspiracy to import more than 600kg of narcotics from the Americas, NSW

Three men have been charged following a joint-agency investigation into alleged conspiracies to import more than $250 million of illicit drugs into Australia, NSW Police say.

In 2016, detectives from the NSW Police Force’s Organised Crime Squad, the NSW Crime Commission, and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) established Strike Force Connaught 2 to investigate the activities of a Sydney-based transnational organised criminal syndicate.

Investigators have been working closely with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the Australian Federal Police.

As a result of their joint inquiries, and with the assistance of AFP’s International Operations Panamanian authorities, officers intercepted 313kg of methylamphetamine (ice) in Panama on Thursday 26 October 2017.

This was the largest single-seizure of ‘ice’ in Panamanian history.

Police will allege in court the drugs, which have an estimated potential street value of $133 million, were destined for Australia.

Further investigation revealed an alleged conspiracy to import 300kg of cocaine, which has an estimated potential street value of $120 million, from South America to Sydney.

Following further inquiries, strike force detectives, with the assistance of the Tactical Operation Unit, arrested two men at a warehouse at Alexandria, just before 11am yesterday (Tuesday 5 December 2017).

A short time later, a third man was arrested outside a home at Coogee.

A 37-year-old Coogee man was charged with two counts of import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, and direct activities of criminal organisation.

The 60-year-old Strathfield man was charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

The 64-year-old Lilyfield man was charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

All men have been refused bail to appear at Waverley, Central, and Newtown Local Courts respectively later today (Wednesday 6 December 2017).

The maximum penalty for import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs is life imprisonment.

Following the arrests, strike force investigators executed five search warrants at Coogee, Lilyfield, Regents Park, Strathfield, and Zetland, where they seized more than $500,000 cash, ice, mobile phones, and items relevant to the investigation.

A 24-year-old woman was arrested at the Zetland property and charged with deal with property proceeds of crime.

She was granted strict conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday 11 January 2018.

The investigation under Strike Force Connaught 2 is continuing in NSW and internationally.

NSW Police Force’s Director of Crime Operations, Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Smith, said successful targeting of transnational organised crime relies on cohesive law enforcement partnerships.

“Over the past 12 months, NSW Police Force – in partnership and cooperation with local and international law enforcement and intelligence agencies – has uncovered some sophisticated attempts to bring narcotics through our borders and onto the streets of Sydney,” Det Ch Supt Smith said.

“Our joint investigations have ensured these attempts were only attempts; tonnes of these harmful substances have been seized and countless members of criminal syndicates arrested and put before the courts.

“International cooperation in law enforcement and intelligence is not new, but our relationships are stronger than ever, allowing us to reach across the globe to target any crime that may impact on the people of NSW,” Det Ch Supt Smith said.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to the importation or trafficking of illicit drugs to call Crime Stoppers.

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