The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has charged the 51-year-old Master of an international bulk shipping carrier for his alleged role in the plot to import 320 kilograms of cocaine into Australia via regional Western Australia.
he Captain is expected to face South Hedland court after he was arrested on the cargo vessel Interlink Veracity and later charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs.
The AFP arrested the man after a forensic examination of a mobile device seized from him last week allegedly uncovered messages relating to the drug importation.
Authorities seized the cocaine in Port Hedland on 15 May and arrested two men who they alleged had collected the plastic wrapped drugs from the ocean off the coast of the Pilbara town.
Police will allege that the 51-year-old man smuggled the cocaine onto the cargo vessel Interlink Veracity at an overseas port. He allegedly waited until the vessel was anchored in Australian waters about 28 kilometres off Port Hedland on 14 May (2022), and dropped the packages into the ocean for retrieval.
The two other men charged, allegedly used a small boat to pick up the drugs from the water that evening. AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner John Tanti said the AFP and its partners had warned that the seizure of the drugs and initial arrests were just the start of the investigation, and they would be relentless in pursuing anyone involved in the venture.
Transnational organised crime syndicates rely on people who are willing to abuse the access and influence they have through their employment to help bring illicit drugs into Australia, as the accused is alleged to have done in this case
The 51-year-old man has been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely cocaine, contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).
The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The other two men have both been charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs and failing to comply with a 3LA order. They are remanded in custody and are next due in court on 15 June (2022).