Australian Authorities Thwart $94 Million Cocaine Import Plot from Papua New Guinea

Australia, Police

Article: A collaborative effort between the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Queensland Police Service (QPS), and the Australian Border Force (ABF) has led to the arrest of a Victorian man for his alleged involvement in a criminal syndicate planning to import 289kg of cocaine into Queensland from Papua New Guinea.

The joint task force, known as Taskforce Venator, apprehended the 20-year-old suspect on April 12, 2024, following a thorough investigation triggered by the ABF’s discovery of an air cargo consignment suspected of using a legitimate company’s altered details to evade detection.

The consignment, supposedly containing gravel mix water purifiers and drill bits, was found to hold dozens of rectangular blocks that tested positive for cocaine.

The 248 packages of the illicit substance, concealed among shredded paper and bubble wrap, were seized, and the man was arrested shortly after collecting the consignment from a freight warehouse and taking it to a short-term rental property in Strathpine.

AFP Detective Superintendent Adrian Telfer praised the close working relationship between law enforcement agencies, emphasizing their commitment to dismantling criminal syndicates that endanger the Australian community.

ABF Acting Commander Jim Ley reiterated the significance of these joint operations, pledging to continue preventing harmful narcotics from infiltrating the community.

Similarly, Queensland Police Service Detective Acting Superintendent Tim Leadbetter highlighted the importance of cooperation in addressing organized crime, recognizing the substantial impact such operations have on community safety.

The arrest serves as a testament to law enforcement’s dedication to making Australia a hostile environment for criminal syndicates attempting to profit from harmful drugs, with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment awaiting those convicted.

Commissioner David Manning of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary acknowledged the value of enhanced regional cooperation in fighting illicit drugs and expressed concern over organized criminal groups using PNG as a transhipment point, inflicting misery on the local population.

Taskforce Venator’s role in investigating, prosecuting, and disrupting offending by Transnational Serious Organised Crime (TSOC) entities and Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCG) impacting Australian interests underscores law enforcement’s commitment to combating illicit drugs and protecting the community.