Large sums of money spent in casino led to an operation intercepting 1.7 metric tons of cocaine and the arrest of three men who could allegedly supply all the cocaine of New South Wales for a year.
Almost two tonnes of cocaine were seized in a joint operation between the U.S. and Australian authorities, New South Wales police announced. Police thinks it is part of a conspiracy to supply three tonnes of cocaine in New South Wales, which is worth about $900 million AUD ($700 million USD) in the street. It accounts for a year of supply in New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state with 8.1 million people including Sydney.
According to Watoday, the traffic was uncovered after a man spent AU $100 million in a week in early 2020 at poker machines in the Star casino of Sydney, the second largest in Australia. The investigation revealed a “significant transnational organized crime syndicate facilitating the importation of illicit drugs, operating across Australia and North and South America”.
The U.S. Navy intercepted a vessel last October with 870 kilograms of cocaine. In April, the U.S. Coast Guard seized 900 kilograms of cocaine from a second vessel after NSW Police inquiries. In court, police will allege it is part of a conspiracy to supply prohibited drug.
Fake cocaine stored waiting to be picked up
Investigators constructed a replica of the second seizure and stored it in a storage facility. The man who allegedly tried to access them was arrested on June 3. He was the one identified at the casino, gambling large sums of money. He previously worked for an aviation services contractor at the Sydney airport. A second man parked nearby, who was director of a security company, was also arrested. Both were suspected of drug import since 2018 when they used to work at the cargo supply area of the airport. They were only identified as being involved together in drug traffic after the operation in October.
The third man arrested was on parole for a sentence of 17 years on drug importation, which expired in December last year. All three were refused bail.
Media sources and useful links:
- NSW Police Force disrupts conspiracy to supply $900 million of cocaine, New South Wales Police, June 2021, Free access
- $100 million gambled on pokies in one week led police to historic cocaine bust, Watoday, June 2021, Free access