A joint operation between the border protection forces of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US has resulted in the seizure of approximately 95 kilograms of cocaine from a cruise ship in Sydney and the arrest of three Canadian nationals on drug importation charges.
The ship is Sea Princess.
Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP), in cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) worked together on the case.
On Sunday 28 August 2016, ABF officers boarded the vessel when it berthed in Sydney Harbour, and with the assistance of detector dogs, searched a number of passenger cabins on the ship. During this search, about 95 kilograms of cocaine was located, packed in suitcases. It is reported to be the biggest drug bust ever on a cruise ship, with the cocaine worth an estimated AUD 31 million.
AFP officers then arrested three Canadian nationals, a 63-year-old man, a 28-year-old woman and a 23-year old woman.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that three passengers Andre Tamine, 63, Isabelle Lagace, 28, and Melina Roberce, 22, were charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
They did not apply for bail and it was formally refused.
In a statement issued earlier yesterday, ABF Assistant Commissioner, Strategic Border Command, Clive Murray said the seizure was another example of international cooperation leading to significant results in the fight against drugs.
The Australian Border Force was aware of all the different ways that drugs could be smuggled into the country and was working with a range of international agencies to stop them.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Crime Operations Shane Connelly said that the AFP’s first priority would always be the safety of the community.
“Today’s successful operation has resulted in three arrests and we will not rule out further activity as we continue our investigations.”
Edited by Peter Needham