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

14:00  12 september  2019
14:00  12 september  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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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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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.

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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Law enforcement arrested six Australian men in Geraldton and two men in Perth during the operation, seizing a van with 59 bags inside, each containing around 20kg of meth. Another bag containing some 20kg of the drug was found on a boat docked at Geraldton

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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.

Billion-dollar Geraldton drug bust sees three men from 'established criminal network' arrested © ABC News Police have released pictures of the drugs they seized in the Abrolhos Islands.

"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.

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

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

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

Billion-dollar Geraldton drug bust sees three men from 'established criminal network' arrested © ABC News Police say the men tried to hide the drug bags by covering them with seaweed.

"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.

Billion-dollar Geraldton drug bust sees three men from 'established criminal network' arrested © ABC News The men and the drugs were allegedly discovered on Burton Island.

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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