A shipmaster of a cargo vessel was charged after smuggling cocaine worth $128million into Western Australia. The Montenegro national, aged 51 years, had been arrested by the AFP on a vessel named Interlink Veracity on Monday, accused of being involved in smuggling in Port Hedland, earlier in the month.
He was charged with the import of a significant quantity of border-controlled drugs and will face an encounter at the South Hedland court on Tuesday. The arrest comes when the relevant authorities seized 320kilograms of cocaine in Port Hedland on 15 May. They arrested two men who collected plastic-wrapped drugs from the ocean off the Pilbara town coast.
The police had found the men in a campervan. The cocaine shipment had been divided into blocks of 1kg each. Last week, the AFP examined a mobile phone that had been seized from a 51-year-old man and uncovered messages that were relevant to the drug import.
The 51-year-old man smuggled cocaine at an overseas port, on a cargo vessel. He patiently waited till the ship anchored nearly 28 kilometres off Port Hedland, in Australian waters on 14 May, and had dropped the alleged packages into the ocean for retrieval. An NSW man and German national, who are the other two men charged in the case, used a small boat for collecting drugs that evening from the water.
John Tanti, the AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner, mentioned that AFP and partners had earlier warned that seizure of drugs and arrests would only be the beginning of the examination and that they would be relentless and pursue whoever was involved in the case.
The 51-year-old man was charged with the import of a commercial quantity of cocaine, contrary to the Criminal Code 1995’s section 307.1(1). The maximum penalty this offence carries is life imprisonment.
The NSW man, 49, and German national, 37, have been charged for importing a border controlled drug and not complying with a 3LA order. They have been detained in custody and are due in court on 15 June.
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