Australian Police Seize $144m Worth of Cocaine in Port Botany, After It Shipped Hidden in Excavator via Port Kembla
July 15: A shipment of $144 million worth of cocaine arrived at Port Kembla before it was seized by police at Port Botany.
The narcotics arrived in Australia in a second-hand excavator, shipped out of South Africa into Port Kembla before being driven to Port Botany in June.
Border Force officers were suspicious about the origin of the heavy equipment and x-rayed sections of it at the Sydney Container Examination Facility.
The cocaine was concealed within the hydraulic lifting arms of the excavator, which had been opened, filled with 384 separate one-kilogram packets of cocaine, and carefully re-sealed.
Border Force officers substituted the narcotics and then resealed the replacements into the metal lifting arms, with the excavator trucked down to Bungendore in the ACT for delivery, where police were waiting.
Heavily armed Canberra-based tactical police swarmed the back streets of Bungendore, making two arrests related to the shipment from South Africa on Sunday.
The 384kg seizure is the biggest made by ACT police, who coordinated the raid out of Winchester Police Centre in Belconnen in strict secrecy after having a local criminal syndicate under surveillance for some months.
Bungendore residents reported witnessing the tactical officers carrying semi-automatic weapons preparing to enter the target premises, a small landscaping company in King Street.
Two men appeared in Queanbeyan Local Court on Monday as a result of the raid. Neither man applied for bail and will be held in custody until their next scheduled court appearance on September 9. The men are expected to face high-level drug trafficking charges, which potentially carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Source: Illawarra Mercury / Peter Brewer