POLICE have today closed a ‘covert and protracted’ operation targeting the importation of around $5 million worth of cocaine through Australian airports, bound for the Gold Coast.
Operation Lima Exposure, which was launched in November 2012, wrapped up today with a number of search warrants being executed at various addresses within the Gold Coast.
To date, more than 14 kilograms of cocaine has been seized and 16 Brazilian students arrested for offences including importation of controlled drugs and possession of dangerous drugs.
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To facilitate the operation, Gold Coast police worked with the Australian Federal Police, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Australian Crime Commission.
Investigations identified that a syndicate operating out of the Gold Coast was facilitating the importation of large quantities of cocaine though airports in both Sydney and Brisbane which were bound for the Gold Coast.
“More than 14 kilograms of cocaine has been seized coming through Australian airports allegedly concealed in specially modified luggage which was mainly in the possession of Brazilian students,” police said in a statement.
“It is alleged these students had been recruited on the Gold Coast by syndicate members to bring the dangerous drug into Australia upon their return from Brazil.”
Police will also obtain arrest warrants for Brazilian nationals who are currently residing outside Australia.
As a result of these identified crime trends, police will seek to engage educational institutions in an effort to deter Brazilian students within Australia from being recruited to carry out these drug importations.