A FIJIAN national has been arrested and charged in Sydney after allegedly smuggling more than $17 million worth of cocaine into the country, concealed in boxes of bottled water.
The drugs allegedly arrived in Sydney from Fiji in a shipping container last Friday, August 10.
While being screened at the Australian Border Force’s Sydney Container Examination Facility, it’s understood investigators identified several anomalies.
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That’s when Border Force officers decided to deconstruct the shipping container and allegedly discovered 50 kilograms of cocaine secreted in packets of bottled water.
It is estimated the cocaine has an approximate street value of $17.5 million.
Following further investigation, Federal Police raided a property in Hurstville on Wednesday and seized material related to the investigation before arresting a 29-year-old Fijian man yesterday.
It will be alleged in court that the man prepared the shipment for export from Fiji and had travelled to Australia to collect it.
The man has been charged with one count of importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs and was due to appear in Parramatta Local Court today.
Investigations to identify and locate the intended recipients in Australia are ongoing.
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.”