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AustraliaBillion-dollar Geraldton drug bust sees three men from 'established criminal network' arrested

09:00  12 september  2019
09:00  12 september  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Billion-dollar Geraldton drug bust sees three men from 'established criminal network' arrested© Supplied: WA Police The smugglers' plans came unstuck when their yacht hit a reef and ran aground in the Abrolhos Islands off Geraldton Three more men from different countries have been arrested as part of an international investigation into an attempted billion-dollar drug smuggling operation uncovered when a yacht ran aground near Geraldton off the WA coast.

A 45-year-old US man and a 35-year-old UK man were arrested in the Perth CBD, while a 50-year-old man from New South Wales was apprehended at Perth Airport.

Billion-dollar Geraldton drug bust sees three men from 'established criminal network' arrested
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The men were refused bail and are due to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court today facing charges of conspiring and attempting to possess prohibited drugs including methylamphetamine with the intent to sell or supply.

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WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the investigation had involved "extensive liaison" with international law enforcement partners, particularly the UK's National Crime Agency.

Commissioner Dawson told ABC Radio Perth this morning that they had received "great support" from the other agencies, the fishing sector and the community in general.

"We're working still internationally, but we've disrupted an international, big drug syndicate here," he said.

A billion-dollar drug haul

Police discovered over one tonne of cocaine, methylamphetamine and MDMA in the Abrolhos Islands off Geraldton last week, with an estimated street value of more than $1 billion.

Assistant Commissioner Brad Royce from the State Crime Command said the scale of the drug haul indicated a highly sophisticated operation.

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"The sheer size and nature of this seizure clearly indicates the involvement of an established criminal network," he said.

The drugs were found after a yacht named Zero was discovered stranded on a reef, prompting a rescue operation during which police spotted two men on nearby Burton Island.

The men were allegedly hiding on the island after ferrying the drugs there on a smaller vessel.

Police claim they attempted to hide the 40 bags of drugs with seaweed.

A 51-year-old French national and 34-year-old UK man appeared in Geraldton Magistrates Court on Thursday and are due to appear in court in Perth on September 20.

Commissioner Dawson said police believed the newly charged men were waiting for the arrival of the yacht.

"We will be alleging that they were in another vessel, and I would characterise them as allegedly being the shore party to receive the drugs that were allegedly brought into Australia," he said.


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