Cocaine and meth worth $186M concealed in mining equipment seized


In a joint operation, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Border Force (ABF) tracked a consignment of mining equipment which came from South Africa to Melbourne. The team seized approximately 254kg of cocaine and 104kg of methyl-amphetamine.

Both drugs put together has an estimated combined value in excess of $186 million. In this connection four men have been arrested in Sydney and Melbourne.

Anomalies were noticed in X-ray images within an iron ore extractor of a consignment of industrial mining equipment. This was detected by ABF officers at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility. Physical examination of the iron ore extractor by ABF officers led to the discovery of 358 1kg block packages of cocaine and methyl-amphetamine. This was concealed in a load of activated charcoal within the mining equipment.

From Melbourne to a storage facility in Sydney, AFP commenced a controlled delivery. Subsequently in Sydney three men were arrested after accessing the consignment. In additional search warrants which followed on the Central Coast of NSW, AFP officers seized cash in a compressed block of AUD$100 notes. It is not known if any Sydney customs broker was involved in the processing of the documents.

The men arrested were charged under following provisions of law. Attempt to import commercial quantities of border controlled drugs, pursuant to subsection 307.1 (1), by virtue of subsection 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth). Attempt to possess commercial quantities of border controlled drugs, pursuant to subsection 307.5(1) by virtue of subsection 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).These offences can attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

This successful operation is an example of the capabilities of ABF to detect even the most sophisticated concealment. The upgraded container x-ray technology has been able to penetrate through several layers of steel, machinery and coal, stones to identify these concealed packages. This is also an example of the  successful cooperation between Australia’s border and law enforcement agencies.