A MAN is facing life behind bars after he was allegedly caught trying to smuggle $1.6 million worth of cocaine through Melbourne International Airport.
The 34-year-old was selected for a baggage examination after arriving at the airport on a flight from Italy on Thursday night.
The Australian Border Force said officers identified a piece of plywood inconsistent with the construction of the man’s suitcase and so the luggage was x-rayed.
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After anomalies were detected in the scans, ABF officers pulled the suitcase apart and allegedly located around five kilograms of a white substance behind the plywood partition.
Initial testing of the substance returned a positive result for cocaine.
Australian Border Force officials said the estimated street value of the drug was $1.63 million but added further forensic testing would need to be conducted to determine its exact weight and purity.
The 34-year-old man was arrested by the Australian Federal Police and later charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and possessing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
These charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
ABF Regional Commander Victoria, James Watson said the seizure was just another example of the good work carried out everyday at the airports across the country.
“This seizure demonstrates the capacity of ABF officers on the frontline to identify and disrupt the importation of drugs into Australia,” Commander Watson said.