An international covert operation has intercepted a record of 2.4 tonnes of cocaine, estimated to be worth A$1 billion ($677 million), from entering Western Australia in what is believed to be the nation’s biggest drug bust.
The Western Australian (WA) Police Force said on Saturday that it has arrested 12 individuals, including an American, who are allegedly involved in the drug smuggling and connected to a Mexican drug cartel.
“It [the cocaine] represented more than half of the annual cocaine consumption in Australia as a whole. That is significant in itself,” detective senior sergeant David Palmer said in a video posted by WA police.
WA police said its “Operation Beech” commenced last November after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration intercepted 2.4 tonnes of cocaine bound for Australia off the South American coastline.
After seizing the drugs, WA police replaced the cargo with an inert substance and packaging identical to that used by the cartel and dropped it roughly about 40 nautical miles west of Perth’s coast on Dec. 28, 2022.
“Once dropping the substituted substance in the ocean, we knew there was going to be people that were going to attend that location to collect that. We were willing to wait as long as it took for those people to arrive,” detective inspector Jeff Beros said.
Three suspected members of the “Australian arm of a drug syndicate” with 1.2 tonnes of fake cocaine were arrested on Dec. 30, 2022, after allegedly making three trips out through rough seas to collect the packages.
A further nine arrests were made through Jan. 13, including a traffic stop on the Great Eastern Highway, roughly 600 kilometers (373 miles) east of Perth, where officers found more than A$2 million ($1.4 million) in cash.
“This operation has enabled us to draw out those members of the syndicate who were equipped and prepared to receive and distribute a significant amount of illicit drugs within the community, who may have otherwise gone undetected and waited for the next consignment,” WA police commissioner Col Blanch said, news.com.au reported.
“The operation sends a message to international drug traffickers—your deadly drugs are not welcome here, and we will work closely and innovatively with our onshore and offshore law enforcement partners to dismantle your operations,” he added.
Crystal Meth Seized
Last August, Australian police seized some A$1.6 billion ($1.1 billion) worth of crystal meth from several sea freight containers.
More than 1,800 kilograms of methylamphetamine was found in containers arriving in Sydney port hidden in marble stone slabs, New South Wales (NSW) state police said in a statement.
“The capability that this syndicate has demonstrated to us, in terms of volume and size is enormous. These figures are staggering,” NSW detective chief superintendent John Watson said during a media briefing.
Methylamphetamine, commonly referred to as methamphetamine or by its street name of ice or crystal meth, is one of the most potent varieties of the amphetamine drug. The name “ice” became popular due to its small white crystals and glass-like appearance.
Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times