FIVE people – four men and a woman – have been arrested and charged over an alleged plot to import more than half a tonne of crystal meth and cocaine into Australia from Colombia and Mexico.
One-hundred-and-one kilos of methylamphetamine or ‘ice’ was intercepted in Mexico on Thursday, 14 September.
Police allege the drugs, which have an estimated street value of $50 million, were destined for Australia.
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Subsequent investigations uncovered an alleged conspiracy to import 500kg of cocaine from Colombia to Sydney.
Police allege the cocaine had an estimated potential street value of $150 million.
The sting follows a major joint-agency investigation involving the NSW Police Organised Crime Squad, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Detectives from Strike Force Rowena pounced yesterday, arrested three people in Sydney and two in Adelaide.
Two men aged 46 and 48 were arrested in a car park on Market Street at Darling Harbour just before 11am.
They were taken to Day Street Police Station and charged with attempt to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drug and supply large commercial of a prohibited drug.
Shortly after, strike force investigators simultaneously arrested a 40-year-old man at a home at Epping and a 41-year-old man at a home at Collinswood in South Australia.
Both men were charged with two counts conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, with the Epping man also charged with deal proceeds of crime.
The NSW men were remanded in custody overnight and scheduled to appear in Central Local Court later today.
The South Australian man was also refused bail to appear at Adelaide Magistrates court later today. Strike force investigators will travel to Adelaide to seek the man’s extradition to NSW in coming days.
Following the arrests, police raided a home at Epping and a number of hotel rooms at Darling Harbour.
A further five search warrants were executed in South Australia on homes at Collinswood, Mawson Lakes, Seacombe Gardens, and Plympton Park, and a business at Kensington Gardens.
During the raids, officers seized more than $50,000 cash, designer watches, gold and silver bullion, numerous documents, and mobile telephones.
A 36-year-old woman was arrested after police allegedly found a stash of methylamphetamine during a search on the home at Plympton Park.
She was charged with trafficking a controlled drug and released on bail to appear at Adelaide Magistrates Court on Wednesday 13 December.
NSW Police Force’s Organised Crime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, said the investigation is indicative of the future of how law enforcement targets organised crime.
“The Organised Crime Squad has developed strong relationships with law enforcement and intelligence agencies at home and abroad, which allows us to target drugs and other commodities at the source,” Det Supt Cook said.
“By working together, we can cut deep into the profits of organised criminal activity, and prevent these poisons from even reaching our borders.”
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission NSW State Manager, Warren Gray, said the operation demonstrated the importance of international agencies working together to effectively target transnational criminal enterprises.
“The trust that is built between nations through joint operational activity is paramount to the successful fight against organised crime, and we are committed to working with our domestic and international partners to connect, discover, understand and respond to the threat and harm caused by these illicit activities,” Mr Gray said.