Behind the big cocaine bust at Sydney Airport

An 18-month joint investigation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Customs and Border Protection and New South Wales Police has resulted in six men being arrested for allegedly being involved in the importation of cocaine into Australia.
 
It will be alleged in court that the men were involved in the importation of cocaine utilising airside employees who were able to retrieve narcotic packages from the arriving aircraft at Sydney International Airport.
 
On Sunday, 1kg of cocaine was seized with an estimated street value of $350,000.
 
The AFP-led investigation saw six search warrants executed across New South Wales residential addresses in Bexley, Glenwood, Matraville, Merrylands, Mascot and Maroubra – where a quantity of Australian and foreign currency was seized – and a commercial premises in Mascot.
 
The investigation commenced in 2007 as a result of Customs and Border Protection intelligence assessments.
 
Since this time, the Joint Airport Investigation Team at Sydney Airport (JAIT) has been investigating several related incidents, including the importation of 5.7 kilograms of cocaine in December 2007 from Los Angeles into Sydney located inside the aircraft.  This consignment had a street value of approximately $1.6million.
 
AFP Acting National Manager Aviation Commander Steve Grant said that this investigation is among the most complex that JAIT has conducted since its inception in 2006.  The investigation has seen up to 12 AFP officers working full time on the investigation with more than 58,000 telephone calls intercepted.
 
"It is believed that this investigation has resulted in the dismantling of an international drug syndicate that relied upon the involvement of airport staff, which is an exceptional result," Commander Grant said.
 
"The Joint Airport Investigation Team targets serious and organised crime including targeting trusted insiders (employees) who exploit or aim to exploit security vulnerabilities at major airports."
 
Customs and Border Protection Regional Director NSW, Andrew Hosking, said the arrests were the result of inter-agency cooperation and collaboration.
 
"This operation demonstrates our capability to work with other law enforcement agencies, both in Australia and overseas, to disrupt major organised crime networks," Mr Hosking said.
 
"This investigation shows that our focus is not only on passengers entering and leaving Australia, but on the broader range of activities at our international airports."
 
The Unified Policing Model has been implemented at 11 major airports in Australia and relies on the close cooperation between the AFP, state and territory police, the aviation industry and government agencies to identify, assess and resolve security and crime risks facing airports.
 
The particular charges laid as a result of this investigation include: 
  • A 38-year-old Maroubra man has been charged with conspiring to import commercial quantities of border controlled drugs as per section 307.1 by virtue of section 11.5 of the Criminal Code 1995;
  • A 48-year-old Bexley man has been charged with importing commercial quantities of border controlled drugs as per section 307.1 of the Criminal Code 1995;/ conspiring to import commercial quantities of border controlled drugs as per section 307.1 by virtue of section 11.5 of the Criminal Code 1995;
  • A 55-year-old Mascot man has been charged with conspiring to import commercial quantities of border controlled drugs as per section 307.1 by virtue of section 11.5 of the Criminal Code 1995;/ Aid, abet, counsel and procure the importations of a marketable quantity of border controlled drugs as per section 307.1 by virtue of section 11.2 of the Criminal Code 1995;
  • A 47-year-old Glenwood man has been charged with conspiring to import marketable quantities of border controlled drugs as per section 307.1 by virtue of section 11.5 of the Criminal Code 1995;/Possession of a marketable quantity of border controlled drugs as per section 307.1 by virtue of section 11.2 of the Criminal Code 1995;
  • A 43-year-old Merrylands man has been charged with conspiring to import marketable quantities of border controlled drugs as per section 307.1 by virtue of section 11.5 of the Criminal Code 1995;/Possession of a marketable quantity of border controlled drugs as per section 307.1 by virtue of section 11.2 of the Criminal Code 1995.
  • A 20-year-old Matraville man has been charged with dealing in proceeds of crime – money or property worth $50,000 or more – as per section 400.5 of the Criminal Code 1995.
The last offence carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment, while the other offences carry a maximum of 25 years.
MREC HERE

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