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US NewsYacht carrying tonne of drugs hits Abrolhos Islands reef, alleged smugglers found on island

15:00  05 september  2019
15:00  05 september  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Two men are charged with trying to smuggle more than a tonne of cocaine and ecstasy into WA, after their yacht hit a reef and they were found on an island in the Houtman Abrolhos allegedly hiding the drugs with seaweed.

About one tonne of illicit drugs has been found on a West Australian island after a yacht ran aground on a reef , with It is alleged the men — a 51-year-old French national and a 34-year-old English man — were sailing on the yacht when it ran aground on Monday in the Houtman Abrolhos off Geraldton.

Yacht carrying tonne of drugs hits Abrolhos Islands reef, alleged smugglers found on island © ABC News The yacht, named "Zero", was brought to Geraldton after it was abandoned on the reef.

Two foreign nationals have faced court charged with attempting to smuggle more than a tonne of cocaine and ecstasy into Western Australia after their yacht hit a reef and ran aground in the Abrolhos Islands off the Mid West coast.

Police said the drugs, totalling more than 1,000 kilograms, were found packed in 40 bags, and had an estimated street value of more than $1 billion (£550,000) .

It is alleged the men — a 51-year-old French national and a 34-year-old English man — were sailing on the yacht when it ran aground on Monday in the Houtman Abrolhos off Geraldton.

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Abrolhos Islands reef as alleged smugglers found ' hiding ': Great Barrier Reef long-term outlook 'very poor', Federal Government reef report finds For smuggle more than a tonne of cocaine and ecstasy into Western Australia after their yacht hit a reef and ran aground at the Abrolhos Islands .

The drugs were discovered after local fishermen reported a 15m yacht named Zero was stranded on a Police will allege two men on the yacht then used a smaller craft to ferry 40 bags suspected to The pair were arrested on Burton Island on Tuesday. Up to one tonne of illegal drugs were found

A sea and air search was launched following the discovery of the abandoned yacht, and police have alleged the men were found hiding on nearby Burton Island after ferrying the drugs there on another smaller vessel.

WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said the men had tried to hide the bags containing the "significant quantity" of drugs by covering them with seaweed.

He said forensic officers were still assessing the haul, but it included a "significant quantity" of cocaine, ecstasy and possibly also methamphetamine. Yacht carrying tonne of drugs hits Abrolhos Islands reef, alleged smugglers found on island © WA Police/ABC News The men are accused of ferrying the drugs off the yacht using a smaller vessel.

"We estimate it is in excess of one tonne and does include cocaine, MDMA or ecstasy, and we also believe there's methylamphetamine," he said.

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A massive haul of illicit drugs found on a tiny island off Western Australia Massive haul of cocaine and ecstasy weighing one tonne and worth more than BILLION is They are accused of running their yacht aground on a reef near Stick Island in the Houtman Abrolhos archipelago off Geraldton.

Two men have been charged with trying to smuggle more than a tonne of drugs into WA, after their yacht hit a reef and they were found on an island in the Houtman Abrolhos allegedly trying to hide the drugs under seaweed.

He said the investigation had only just started and included WA Police and the Australian Federal Police along with other agencies, including the US the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Crime Agency of Britain.

Rescue operation turns into seizure

Commissioner Dawson said when the yacht, named "Zero", was discovered on a reef, it initially sparked a rescue operation.

"The sea search and rescue phase continued until we spotted a couple of men on a nearby island with a small tender," he said.

"When those persons were under observation, they tried to conceal both the drugs and themselves and then it escalated, of course, into an investigation.

"I think the people who stand accused are probably going to have a story to tell as to how it got upon the reef.

"I doubt whether it was planned." Yacht carrying tonne of drugs hits Abrolhos Islands reef, alleged smugglers found on island © ABC Police moved items from a vessel into a removal van at the Geraldton Fishermen's Wharf.

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The Houtman Abrolhos (often informally called the Abrolhos Islands ) is a chain of 122 islands , and associated coral reefs , in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia.

Massive haul of illegal drugs weighing one tonne and worth more than BILLION is found on a remote Stick Island ,which is part of the Houtman Abrolhos archipelago west of Geraldton, off West Australia after a yacht ran aground.

Police were last night seen unloading items from a vessel into a removal van at the Geraldton Fishermen's Wharf.

The yacht was towed into the wharf this morning, where forensics were examining the vessel.

Men appear in Geraldton court

Antoine Dicenta and Graham Kurt Palmer have been charged with one count of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

The French and British nationals made a brief appearance in Geraldton Magistrates Court this morning.

They were both remanded in custody and will appear in court in Perth on September 20. Yacht carrying tonne of drugs hits Abrolhos Islands reef, alleged smugglers found on island © ABC News The yacht was brought into the Geraldton Fishermen's Wharf for forensic examinations.

Commissioner Dawson said community members in the Abrolhos Islands alerted police when the yacht was spotted.

"I've got to commend the members of the community … they were of great assistance to police," he said.

Drug seizure 'colossal': Minister

Police Minister Michelle Roberts described it as a "colossal" drug haul.

"This amounts to hundreds of thousands, or more, shots of misery," she said.

"We don't know the ultimate destination of these drugs. You'd have to expect some of them would have made their way into the West Australian community if they weren't intercepted.

"I suspect though that much of the haul was destined for the east coast and right round Australia.

Ms Roberts said drugs were driving other crimes in the community, including assaults, and they were "ripping families apart" by changing peoples' behaviour.

Billion-dollar Geraldton drug bust sees three men from 'established criminal network' arrested.
Three more men from different countries are arrested as part of an international investigation into an attempted billion-dollar drug smuggling operation uncovered when a yacht ran aground off the WA coast.

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