An illicit drug operation by a transnational criminal syndicate was foiled at Sydney International Airport in the busy pre-Christmas peak period by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers, who seized about 37 kilograms of cocaine in the luggage of five passengers.
ABF officers intercepted a group of four Canadian nationals and one US citizen, who arrived on a flight from Los Angeles on 22 December 2015.
Whatever the plans of the five, reality turned out differently. A search of their luggage allegedly revealed a total of 81 tightly sealed packages containing a white powdery substance that was tested and returned a presumptive positive result for cocaine.
The matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for further investigation, and the five passengers were later charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely cocaine, contrary to section 307.1 of Australia’s Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995.
The five passengers appeared in Parramatta Local Court on 23 December 2015 and the matter was re-listed for a bail application today (6 January 2016) at Sydney Central Local Court.
Australian Border Force Regional Commander Tim Fitzgerald said the significant seizure was located in the lining of eight checked in bags belonging to the passengers.
“This seizure highlights the effectiveness of our ABF airport officers in detecting and disrupting organised criminal gangs using drug couriers to attempt to import these dangerous illegal drugs through our international airports,” Commander Fitzgerald said.
“This illicit drug detection involving five passengers is even more outstanding in the pre-Christmas peak period when approximately 49,500 passengers were processed on this day at Sydney Airport.”
AFP Airport Police Commander Sharon Cowden said the five passengers could face up to life imprisonment for this attempted import.
“This is a clear warning to people intending to take advantage of the busy holiday travel period that the AFP and the ABF will continue to work with our partners to stop the importation of drugs through our airports,” Commander Cowden said.
Edited by Peter Needham