TWO Mexican men accused of importing 300kg of cocaine into Australia have been arrested in Melbourne.
One of the men, aged 34, was allegedly found in possession of a small amount of cocaine at Melbourne International Airport after flying in from Los Angeles earlier this month.
The man was detained and an investigation was launched, headed by the Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce.
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Enquiries led police to a warehouse in Altona, 13km outside of the CBD, where authorities allegedly uncovered 300kg of cocaine worth more than $100 million hidden in pallets of coffee and cocoa powder.
The drugs had allegedly been smuggled into the country via air cargo.
Further forensic testing will be conducted to determine the exact weight and purity of the drugs.
Officers yesterday raided homes in Port Melbourne and Balaclava where they arrested two Mexican men.
The 34-year-old man who had previously been detained at Melbourne International Airport was formally arrested at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre, while the 33 year-old was arrested in the Port Melbourne raid.
Both men have been charged with the importation a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely cocaine, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code 1996 (Cth).
The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
The 33-year-old has also been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely cocaine, contrary to section 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1996 (Cth).
Australian Federal Police Commander John Beveridge in Melbourne said the investigation required significant cooperation between domestic and international partners.
“Crime today is connected at a local, national, and international level, and one of the AFP’s greatest assets is its robust relationships with partners at home and overseas,” Commander Beveridge said.
“During this investigation, we used the AFP International Network and worked closely with officers at the newly opened AFP post in Mexico.
“We were able to obtain intelligence on this organised criminal syndicate from the source and trace their activities across the globe.”
Australian Border Force Acting Regional Commander Victoria, Rod Winchester, said this was a satisfying result for the ABF and its partners.
“This is why ABF officers turn up to work each day – to play their part in stopping dangerous people, peddling dangerous drugs, from entering our country and ruining Australian lives,” he said.
“These syndicates will continue to target Australia because, sadly, Australians are still prepared to pay a very high price for drugs including cocaine – but we aren’t making it easy for them.
“It goes to show the breadth of law enforcement these cartels are up against when they target Australia.
“Before the border, at the border and after the border; we are watching, we know what they are up to and, when the time is right, we will strike.”
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana said this was a great result for the Victorian community and by working with our partner agencies we have been able to stop this drug hitting our streets.
“Drugs are not harmless, they are not safe, and they have had deadly consequences for some people,” Assistant Commissioner Fontana said.
Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Victorian State Manager Jason Halls said working with partners was essential to disrupt and deter transnational criminal enterprises.
“This operation demonstrates the importance of law enforcement agencies in Australia and internationally sharing intelligence to effectively target organised crime and respond to the threat and harm caused by these illicit activities.”