Two people have been charged after police seized almost half a tonne of cocaine and methamphetamine worth tens of millions of dollars - including
Two people have been charged after police seized almost half a tonne of cocaine and methamphetamine worth tens of millions of dollars – including 120kg of drugs allegedly hidden inside a truckload of frozen chicken.
The operation began when the Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF) identified a criminal network responsible for ‘considerable harm’ and suspected of importing, storing and distributing large quantities of drugs.
Officers stopped the truck and a search found more than 120 kilograms of cocaine allegedly hidden inside.
The driver, 23, was arrested and charged with trafficking in a large commercial quantity of cocaine, which has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
A man (centre) is pictured after law enforcement agencies seized almost half a tonne of cocaine and methamphetamine, worth tens of millions of dollars
On October 19, police seized a further 50 kilograms of cocaine from a location in the north-west Melbourne suburb of Cairnlea.
Investigators then identified a potential ‘drug safe house’ the syndicate was allegedly using to store drugs.
Police got a search warrant for the house and found an estimated 285 kilograms of methamphetamine and 15 kilograms of cocaine.
Then on Monday afternoon, October 24, police carried out further search warrants in Windsor, Southbank and Keysborough.
A Windsor man, 42, was arrested and evidence allegedly linking the syndicate to the distribution of the almost half a tonne of methamphetamine and cocaine was found.
The man was identified as a key member of the syndicate and was charged with trafficking a large commercial quantity of methamphetamine and cocaine, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Victoria Police Acting Commander Paul O’Halloran said these drugs had the potential to cause enormous harm to the community.
‘The two people arrested for this offending are involved in an organised crime syndicate that has brought considerable harm to the Victorian community,’ he said.
‘However it’s not only about the drugs – the money they bring into these syndicates also helps facilitate a myriad of other serious and violent offending.
‘Time and time again we see the impact illicit drugs have at all levels, whether that’s assaults, burglaries, drug driving, right through to the health impacts.’
Mr O’Halloran said the police are sending a strong and clear message to organised crime.
‘We will not stop. We will target you. We will disrupt the syndicates responsible for these imports,’ he said.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commander Raegan Stewart praised the work of JOCTF investigators, and said drug smugglers would use any product and method to carry out their crimes.
‘These are significant seizures taken from a syndicate we will allege was experienced, well-resourced and proficient in their illegal trade – yet this operation shows how we could get one step ahead of them.’
Police officers found more than 120 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside a frozen chicken delivery truck. Pictured is a man arrested and charged as part of the investigation
He said investigations into the criminal syndicate involved are ongoing.
‘We are conducting enquiries with law enforcement agencies overseas and in Australia, and urge anyone with any information to please come forward before we knock on your door.’
Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or to make a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.
For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
Get free 24/7 drug and alcohol counselling online at www.counsellingonline.org.au.
For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to www.turningpoint.org.au.