Nine people, including two Gold Coast men, have been arrested and charged after police smashed an alleged cocaine ring linked to a Colombian organised crime group.
Police allege the men were importing and manufacturing hundreds of kilograms of cocaine under the direction of a Colombian organised crime syndicate.
The Australian Federal Police allege one of the Gold Coast men had allegedly helped organise the construction of a dedicated cocaine production facility on a rural property near the Queensland town of Durong.
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The 35-year-old was arrested at his Gold Coast home overnight on charges related to organising and facilitating the purpose-built extraction shed, which police will allege could have produced 700kg of cocaine.
The second Gold Coast man, aged 30, was arrested in Darwin.
Six other men and a woman were also arrested in Queensland, the Northern Territory and NSW, and charged over their alleged involvement in the elaborate operation.
Police say the investigation began with a Colombian-born Sydney man known to law enforcement.
“This man picked up a dual Spanish-Colombian dual national from Sydney Airport on 18 May and their subsequent activities led investigators to suspect they were involved in illegal activity,” the Australian Federal Police said.
“These two men travelled to the Gold Coast in late May, meeting with the Gold Coast man who allegedly organised the construction of the facility at Durong.”
Authorities admit the major drug bust has struck a “significant blow” to a well-resourced and organised crime syndicate that was targeting and operating in Australia.
“This was a sophisticated, ambitious and ruthless organised crime group that could order the movement of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine with one phone call,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Eastern Command Kirsty Schofield said.
“It is a great credit to our investigators that they were able to identify a suspicious person arriving into the country, follow the money trail and get one step ahead”.
Investigations are continuing into the exact circumstances of how and when the cocaine was imported into Australia.