New South Wales

Joint operation smashes $6 million cocaine syndicate

NSW Police Force and the Australian Border Force have charged two men after more than 20kg cocaine was seized during a joint-agency investigation into international drug trafficking.

In September 2017, detectives from the NSW Police Force’s Drug Squad and investigators from the Australian Border Force (ABF) established Strike Force Brundson as a joint investigation into the importation and supply of cocaine.

As part of their joint inquiries, ABF officers inspected a large consignment from Spain on Monday 9 October 2017, where they located and seized 21kg of cocaine concealed in tiles.

The cocaine has an estimated potential street value of $6.3 million.

Following further inquiries, Strike Force Brundson investigators arrested a 35-year-old man at Warrawong and a 30-year-old man at a wrecking yard at Dapto on Friday (10 November 2017).

During a search of the 30-year-old’s vehicle, investigators located and seized more than $125,000 cash, and 66g of cocaine.

Shortly after the arrests, NSW Police Force and ABF investigators executed search warrants at homes at Lake Heights, Albion Park, and a factory unit at Oak Flats, where they seized a shortened .22 calibre rifle, ammunition, mobile phones, documentation, and drug paraphernalia.

The 35-year-old Lake Heights man was charged with import commercial quantity of border controlled drug.

The 30-year-old Albion Park man was charged with import commercial quantity of border controlled drug, supply prohibited drug, possess unregistered firearm-prohibited firearm, possess ammunition without holding licence/permit/authority, and deal with property proceeds of crime.

They were refused bail and appeared at Wollongong Local Court on Saturday (11 November 2017), where they were formally refused bail to reappear at the same court on Wednesday (15 November 2017).

Joint investigations under Strike Brunsdon are continuing.

ABF Superintendent Investigations, Garry Low, said that this seizure, which has resulted in two arrests, is a win for the Australian community and has prevented more than $6 million of cocaine from the streets.

“Every investigation the ABF conducts, in conjunction with our NSW Police partners, stops harmful and addictive substances from reaching vulnerable Australians,” Superintendent Low said.

“The joint investigative work of both agencies has paid off with not only cocaine being seized but also seizing a firearm and a significant amount of money.

“The ABF uses a multi-layered approach to prevent drugs from coming through the border – no matter how drugs are concealed; we will dismantle the syndicates that attempt to circumvent our border.”

State Crime Command’s Drug Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke, said despite large seizures of cocaine, both at the border and beyond, demand remains high.

“Over the past 12 months, NSW Police Force – with the assistance of our law enforcement partners – have seized tonnes of cocaine destined for the streets of NSW, but organised criminal groups continue to be motivated by an unwavering demand,” Det Supt Cooke said.

“According to wastewater analysis in 2016, NSW has almost double the consumption of cocaine, compared to the next highest state, in terms of doses consumed per day – and this is the most important issue to be addressed.

“Organised crime is about money, and while ever there is a demand for drugs, there will be criminal networks willing to exploit that demand for profit.

“We will continue to work with our partners – including Australian Border Force – to target organised criminal activity, but we need the community’s support to incite real cultural change in relation to drug use.

“By working together to reduce the demand, we can hit these illegitimate businesses where it hurts the most: on their bottom line,” Det Supt Cooke said.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to the importation and supply of illicit drugs to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page:

Information you provide will be treated in the strictest of confidence. We remind people they should not report crime information via Facebook and Twitter pages.

Source: NSW Police