Law enforcement authorities have successfully thwarted an attempt to smuggle about 154 kg of cocaine into Australia. The drugs were hidden inside the hull of the cargo ship that had just pulled into Melbourne’s Appleton Dock.
This is the second such incident in the last two months, indicating an alarming pattern that the authorities are working hard to stop.
In October 2023, the Australian Border Force inspected the cargo ship upon its arrival from South America using a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) and other cutting-edge technology. A suspicious connection on the ship’s hull was discovered by the ROV’s thorough inspection, which prompted additional research.
The hidden packages were retrieved with the assistance of specialised divers from Victoria Police Search and Rescue Squad. Four packages of cocaine were found wrapped in plastic during the operation of the inner part of the sea chest, which was off-limits to the ship’s regular crew.
The cocaine that was found was estimated to be worth $61 million and weighed roughly 154 kg. Law enforcement representatives have pointed out that this amount might have equalled a startling 77,000 street transactions.
Along with seizing the illegal drugs, Australian Federal Police (AFP) agents also found what appeared to be a tracking device. The origin and intended destination of the cocaine are the focus of an ongoing investigation.
This incident comes after a similar one in August 2023 at the Port of Melbourne, where about 200 kg of cocaine was taken from the sea chest of another vessel.
Hilda Sirec, Assistant Commissioner of the AFP, sent crime groups a strong message, stating that their methods of operation are being closely monitored. Sirec highlighted the recent extradition of well-known accused offenders currently facing serious charges as evidence of how effective law enforcement is at identifying and thwarting such attempts.
Cooperation between the ABF, AFP, and Victoria Police is still essential to identify and locate the transnational crime groups involved in these smuggling attempts. The authorities have not ruled out additional arrests.
Assistant Commissioner Sirec emphasised the effects of cocaine on people and society as a whole, stressing the drug’s high potential for addiction and major health risks.
Clint Sims, ABF Commander Maritime and Enforcement South, reported record numbers of cocaine seizures at the border with Australia. Robotic observation vehicles (ROVs) are among the cutting-edge tools used to track down and discourage drug importers. Sims underlined the importance of the Australian border to economic growth and national security.
Inspector James Dalton of the Victoria Water Police echoed the idea of teamwork, stressing how crucial it is to cooperate to identify and discourage criminal activity.
In a clear message to those looking to use maritime channels for illegal activity, he reassured the public that law enforcement agencies are dedicated to identifying and preventing the unlawful importation of drugs.
Reference- AFP Govt
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