10kg cocaine concealed in forklift batteries
A 56-year-old Canadian man was arrested in Sydney for allegedly importing 10 kilograms of cocaine into Australia hidden in forklift batteries.
The detection brings the total amount of cocaine seized since 1 July 2008 to over 400 kilograms.
On 22 December 2008, Customs officers at Sydney’s Port Botany container examination facility inspected a consignment from Mexico containing a forklift.
X-ray examinations of the forklift revealed anomalies within the forklift’s battery unit.
Customs officers drilled into one of the forklift’s 24 battery cells to reveal a white powder, which tested positive for cocaine.
The consignment was destined for an address in Moorebank, New South Wales. Customs referred the consignment to the AFP and an investigation commenced. Search warrants were executed on premises in Moorebank and Bankstown. The man was arrested by AFP agents at a Bankstown hotel.
AFP national manager border and international Tim Morris said the arrest once again highlighted the successful cooperation between the AFP and Customs in combating the international drug trade.
"The drugs seized as a result of this operation have an approximate street value of more than $2.45 million," assistant commissioner Morris said.
"The close relationship between the AFP and Customs continues to stop dangerous drugs from making their way onto Australian streets."
Customs national manager cargo operations north Catherine Asbridge said a detection of this quantity of cocaine was significant and Customs and its partner agencies were committed to preventing narcotics from entering Australia.
"This seizure should send a strong warning to other potential importers of illegal drugs that, no matter how sophisticated the concealment, their shipments will be intercepted," Ms Asbridge said.
The man has been charged with importing and attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to section 307 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment and/or a $825,000 fine.