Qld pair charged over alleged $124 million cocaine bust

Two Queensland men charged with possessing nearly 540kg of cocaine allegedly found hidden inside empty shipping containers have fronted court.

The pair, aged 26 and 28, are accused of being close associates of both local and international members of the Comanchero and Lone Wolf Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs.

Police allege the duo were involved in the importation of two illegal shipments of the drug into Queensland, worth around $124 million.


ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER THIS ADVERTISEMENT


“The AFP will allege that in May 2020, the men retrieved 400kg of cocaine from a total of 490kg of cocaine hidden inside a shipping container that arrived at the Port of Brisbane,” the AFP said.

Around a month later, the men allegedly made multiple visits to various yards in search of a second container, having travelled from the Gold Coast in a white van with fake number plates.

However, little did they know, authorities at the Port of Antwerp had already searched the container after it arrived in Belgium, seizing the 48.5kg of cocaine before sending the container onto Brisbane empty.

Police allege the two men finally located and entered the shipping container in search of the drugs after it arrived down under.

PHOTO: AFP

Shortly after, investigators executed a search warrant at a rural property in the NSW town of Inverell, allegedly linked to the 28-year-old, and found the white van inside an abandoned fossicking shack.

Both men were arrested by police and charged with two counts of possessing a commercial quantity of cocaine, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The case was mentioned in Brisbane Magistrates Court today, where it was adjourned to January 21.

PHOTO: AFP

Detective Acting Superintendent Craig McGrath of the Organised Crime Gangs Group said the operation “demonstrated the Queensland Police Service’s commitment to working alongside partner agencies to target criminal gangs”.

“The Queensland Police Service, working with our partner agencies, in operations including Operation Chopin, again clearly demonstrates we have the expertise, motivation and resources to successfully target and disrupt these groups,” Detective Acting Superintendent McGrath said.

“Criminals should realise it is inevitable they will be identified, arrested and prosecuted. It should also remind people who want to join or associate with outlaw motorcycle gangs that ultimately, joining a gang will be a decision they will regret for life.”