25 September 2023

Police dig out biggest drug haul ever

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ACT policing has seized its biggest-ever drug haul in a joint exercise that resulted in two men from NSW being charged with drug importation offences.

Approximately 384 kilograms of cocaine were seized.

The ACT’s Chief Police Officer, Ray Johnson said earlier this year ACT Policing received information relating to a possible drug importation syndicate operating in southern NSW and the ACT.

“A joint operation commenced with partners from NSW Police, the Australian Federal Police’s National Anti-Gangs Squad, Australian Border Force and other partners,” Chief Police Officer (CPO) Johnson said.

“In June, Australian Border Force officers intercepted a second-hand excavator (pictured) which had recently arrived from South Africa. The excavator was X-rayed at the Sydney Container Examination Facility and anomalies were identified.”

He said the cocaine was found to be concealed within the excavator.

“This volume of cocaine has a street value of approximately $144 million and subsequent investigations by the joint team identified a number of persons of interest in the ACT and southern NSW area,” CPO Johnson said.

“Following a controlled delivery of the excavator, two Karabar men aged 33 and 34 were arrested at a business premises in Bungendore. Both men were charged with the importation of a commercial quantity of border controlled drug and attempting to possess a border controlled drug.”

The men appeared in the Queanbeyan Magistrates Court where they were remanded.

CPO Johnson said the joint operation showed the ACT shouldn’t be seen as an easy target for criminal gangs to bring in drugs.

“It’s clear this group thought that bringing drugs into our district using this machinery would avoid the scrutiny of law enforcement,” he said.

“The seizure of the 384 kilograms of cocaine and the recent arrests shows how wrong they were!”

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