Australian police seize $81m of cocaine

2012-12-07 13:48
Cocaine. (File, AP)

Cocaine. (File, AP)

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Sydney - Australian police on Friday said they had seized cocaine shipped from Chile worth up to $81m, the third global drug syndicate busted in as many weeks.

The 135kg seizure followed a three-month Australian Federal Police investigation and led to the arrest of five men - three Australians, one Italian and one Mexican.

"The Australian Federal Police has seized almost 700kg of illicit drugs in the past several weeks as a result of three separate investigations," Commander Jennifer Hurst said.

"These results should send a clear and lasting message to criminals that police will not rest in the fight against organised crime."

Last month, police seized 350kg of cocaine and methamphetamine with a combined estimated street value of up to $248m, arresting an American and two Canadians.

A further 200kg of cocaine, along with a badly decomposed body, were found onboard a shipwrecked vessel in Tonga last month as part of an investigation by police from Australia, Tonga, the Cook Islands and the US.

Facing life imprisonment

The latest operation began in September, when customs officers inspected a shipment from Chile in Sydney and found significant quantities of cocaine.

Two Australian men, aged 49 and 55, were charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of cocaine and a 41-year-old Australian was charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of the drug.

The Italian, aged 49, has also been charged with conspiracy to import cocaine while a 45-year-old Mexican was charged with conspiracy to import and attempt to possess a commercial amount of the drug.

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.

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