Sun, 29 Mar 2020

Four jailed over largest cocaine seizure in Australia

Australian Federal Police
28 Feb 2020, 22:04 GMT+10

Two men responsible for the attempted importation of 1.4 tonnes of cocaine into Australia in 2017 have been sentenced to life in prison in a New South Wales Court today (Friday, February 28, 2020).

Two other men involved in the importation were also both sentenced to at least 16 years each in jail.

Three Australians and a New Zealand national were today sentenced in the Downing Centre District Court, Sydney, for their role in the February 2017 seizure of the largest single cocaine shipment in Australian history, with a street value estimated to be in excess of $300 million.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigation that resulted in the record seizure began in August 2014 and was supported by the New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS), the New Zealand Police National Organised Crime Group (NOCG), the Fijian Transnational Crime Unit, French Polynesian authorities and Australian Border Force (ABF).

The group travelled from New Zealand using a sailing vessel, the Elakha, to a 'mothership' in the South Pacific Ocean to collect the drugs. The drugs were then transported toward Australia via a smaller vessel off the south coast of New South Wales.

The HMAS Bathurst intercepted the Elakha before it could reach shore and Maritime Border Command (MBC) personnel boarded the vessel.

A search of the Elakha resulted in approximately 1,422 kilograms (1.4 tonnes) of cocaine located in bales on board the yacht.

The four men were sentenced in the Downing Centre District Court today in relation to the following offences:

A 35-year-old Sydney man was sentenced to 27 years (with a minimum non-parole period of 18 years):

Conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drug (cocaine) - Section 307.1(1) by virtue of section 11.5(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

A 66-year-old New Zealand man was sentenced to life imprisonment (with a minimum non-parole period of 22 years):

Conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drug (cocaine) - Section 307.1(1) by virtue of section 11.5(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

A 66-year-old New South Wales man was sentenced to life imprisonment (with a minimum non-parole period of 25 years):

Conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drug (cocaine) - Section 307.1(1) by virtue of section 11.5(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

A 65-year-old New South Wales man was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment (with a minimum non-parole period of 16 years):

Conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drug (cocaine) - Section 307.1(1) by virtue of section 11.5(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

AFP Commander Investigations Northern Command, Andrew Donoghoe said Operation Armour showed the importance of international cooperation in preventing border controlled drugs reaching the Australian community.

"The AFP and our partners are committed to protecting the Australian community from the harm caused by transnational serious and organised crime," Commander Donoghoe said.

"This investigation is a testament to the dedication, patience and resilience of our investigative teams, over a number of years."

If members of the community have any information that may assist police in these efforts please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online. Reports can be made anonymously.

For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.

The original media release on this operation can be found here:

https://www.afp.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/australias-biggest-cocaine-interception-14-tonnes-seized-six-charged

Footage and stills of this operation may be obtained here: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/SnXW8/YWZwbmF0aW9uYWxtZWRpYUBhZnAuZ292LmF1

Media enquiries

AFP National Media: (02) 5126 9297

ABF Media: (02) 6264 2211

NZCS Media: (+64) 21 823 708.

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