Two men have been sentenced to jail for their roles in crewing a yacht that was intercepted off the NSW coast in April 2020 and found to contain 991.9 kilograms of methamphetamine.
According to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the estimated street value of this amount of seized methamphetamine is $495 million.
A 35-year-old dual United Kingdom-South African national was sentenced to 16 years and six months’ jail, while a 34-year-old New Zealand national was sentenced to seven years and six months in jail.
Information from New Caledonia sparked operation
The men were charged as part of a multi-agency investigation known as Operation Romani, comprising the AFP, NSW Police and the Australian Border Force.
Authorities on the French island territory of New Caledonia had advised Australian authorities about the arrival of a yacht called the Mo’Chuisle into Pacific waters.
A second yacht, the La Fayette, departed Mooloolaba Marina in Queensland on 31 March 2020 and sailed to a location in the vicinity of Norfolk Island, where it met with the Mo’Chuisle.
The following month, the La Fayette was located by the ABF’s Marine Border Command heading south-west towards the east coast of Australia. The following day it was intercepted by a NSW Police vessel about 50 nautical miles east of Lake Macquarie in NSW.
Yacht found to have almost 1,000kg of meth on board
Two crew members on board were arrested and almost 1,000 packages suspected to contain methamphetamine were seized. A forensic examination of the packages revealed they contained 991.9 kilograms of methamphetamine.
AFP Detective Superintendent, Matthew Ciantar, said the multi-agency operation was testament to the AFP’s determination to work collaboratively with partner agencies – domestically and internationally – to stop organised criminal groups from importing drugs into Australia.
“The AFP and its partners are setting an international benchmark for law enforcement cooperation. Our commitment in combatting this crime type is seeing us working across jurisdictions and borders to deal significant blows to criminal groups,” said Ciantar.
“Almost one tonne of methamphetamine did not reach Australian streets because of this operation, and that means hundreds of millions of dollars will not flow into the pockets of organised crime.”