An Australian man is facing a potential life behind bars after being charged over an alleged plot to import 20 kilograms of cocaine into Australia from Greece.
The 46-year-old was taken into custody at his suburban Adelaide home yesterday, after a joint agency investigation was launched last week when ABF officers in South Australia selected an air cargo consignment labelled as ‘welding’ for examination.
A wooden crate containing two welding machines was X-rayed, before ABF officers removed a panel from one piece of machinery to uncover an electronic safe.
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Inside the safe was nine rectangular packages which allegedly contained a white powder, with tests returning a “presumptive positive result” to cocaine.
Australian Federal Police officers were then called in and dismantled the second welder, where they found another safe with nine similar packages stashed inside.
Forensic tests have since confirmed the 18 packages contained a total of approximately 20 kilograms of cocaine.
According to authorities, the powder equates to about 20,000 ‘street level’ deals of cocaine, which police say can currently be sold for about $5 million wholesale, and which has an approximate ‘street value’ of $20 million.
Police allege the 46-year-old man had organised the consignment and arranged for it to be delivered to his former workplace, without the knowledge of the business owners.
“It is also alleged he made inquiries to the freight company about when the consignment would be available,” the AFP said.
The man has since been charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
He is expected to face Adelaide Magistrate’s Court today.
AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Gavin Stone said COVID-19 border restrictions are not stopping crime syndicates from trying to flout the law and profit from smuggling illicit drugs into Australia.
“Operations like this send a strong message that no matter how sophisticated or opportunistic these criminal ventures are, or what methods they use, the AFP and our partners are one step ahead,” Detective Acting Superintendent Stone said.
“We will outsmart you. Australian law enforcement are more united than ever to protect the community by stopping harmful drugs from reaching our streets and preventing criminals profiting from their illegal activities.”
Investigations into who sent the drugs from Greece remain ongoing.