Three Arrested Over $16 Million Cocaine Haul From Mexico

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1st December 2008, 10:42am - Views: 569


1 December 2008

Three arrested over $16 million cocaine haul from Mexico

Three Mexican nationals, two men and one woman, will face Melbourne Magistrates
Court this morning, charged with attempting to import 64.6kg of cocaine into Australia.

The joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and United States
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (US ICE) has resulted in the disruption of a
transnational syndicate and the prevention of cocaine with an estimated value of more
than $16 million from being distributed on Australia's streets.

AFP National Manager Border and International Tim Morris said the operation was a
significant achievement for Australian and United States law enforcement.

"The disruption of this transnational syndicate is an example of Australian and United
States law enforcement agencies working together against the global problem of drug
trafficking," Assistant Commissioner Morris said.

"This seizure has saved the Australian community more than $18.7 million in
associated health and social costs."

Customs National Manager Enforcement Operations, Malcolm Wright said Customs
cooperates with a number of national and international law enforcement agencies,
particularly in relation to drug and chemical precursors.

"Customs uses sophisticated technology to target cargo, postal items and travellers
and we remain focused on intercepting illicit drugs and other items that have the
potential to harm the Australian community," he said.

On 10 October 2008, US ICE working in conjunction with US Customs and Border
Protection (US CBP) informed the AFP of detection of cocaine in cargo from the
United States, which was destined for Melbourne.

The cocaine reportedly originated in Mexico and was concealed within four concrete
cylinders weighing 210 kilograms each.

US ICE and US CBP in partnership with the AFP coordinated the transport of the
shipment to Australia.

The shipping consignment, which also included ceramic goods such as pots, planters
and statues, travelled via Hong Kong and arrived in Melbourne on 22 November.

The concrete cylinders were then replicated by AFP, US ICE and US CBP officers and
a controlled delivery operation commenced.

On Friday 28 November, AFP officers arrested the three Mexican nationals in
Springvale who had accessed the consignment in a storage facility. As a result,
search warrants were executed on two residential addresses in Melbourne.

Four other men were arrested and later released.

It will be alleged in court that the three Mexican citizens travelled from Mexico to
Melbourne on 15 October 2008 and took delivery of the consignment on
28 November.

The following persons have been charged with attempting to import and conspiracy to
import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely cocaine, contrary to
section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995:
a 39-year-old female Mexican citizen
a 40-year-old male Mexican citizen
a 28-year-old male Mexican citizen

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment and/or a $825,000 fine.

The AFP would also like to acknowledge the support provided to this operation by the
Australian Customs Service.

Media Conference

A joint media conference will be held in Melbourne today (Monday, 1 December 2008)
to discuss the operation. Members from the AFP, Customs and US ICE will be

Time: 9.00am
Address: AFP Headquarters, 383 La Trobe St, Melbourne

Photos and footage from the operation will be available at the press conference.

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media (02) 6275 7100
Customs Media (02) 6275 6793

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