The Australian Federal Police has arrested a 41-year-old Spanish national in Wollongong, NSW after Colombian authorities seized more than 35 kilograms of cocaine bound for Australia.
The AFP and Colombian National Police conduct joint operational activity to combat transnational serious organised crime through officers based in the city of Bogotá.
As part of that arrangement, an air cargo consignment labelled as ‘roasted coffee’ bound for the Wollongong area was examined at Bogota Airport late last month by the Colombian National Police. The cardboard box with 67 bags of coffee was found to contain packets of a powdered substance inside the coffee bags.
More than 35kg of cocaine in coffee packets
The substance returned a positive result for cocaine, weighed approximately 35.6 kilograms and was seized by Colombian authorities.
The AFP investigation into the attempted importation, known as Operation Specs, revealed the alleged involvement of a Spanish national residing in the Wollongong suburb of Port Kembla.
Officers executed search warrants yesterday (8 September 2021) where the 41-year-old man was arrested at his home. During the search, police seized 1.84 kilograms of cocaine and located a clandestine laboratory.
He was charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, dealing with property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime, and trafficking a marketable quantity of a controlled drug.
Faces maximum penalty of life imprisonment
The maximum penalty for importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs is life imprisonment. The maximum penalty for dealing with property reasonably suspected of being proceeds of crime is two years in jail, and the maximum penalty for trafficking a marketable quantity of a controlled drug is 25 years.
According to the AFP, it has not ruled out the possibility of further arrests as the investigation into the attempted cocaine importation continues.
Detective Superintendent Craig Bellis said transnational serious organised crime syndicates will continue targeting Australia for its profitable illicit drug trade.
“The AFP works closely with its international law-enforcement partners to identify and track the movement of illicit drugs bound for Australia because no one nation can tackle the scourge of illicit drugs alone,” Bellis said.