Three men arrested over plan to import cocaine worth $900MILLION

A photo of a man betting a ‘significant’ amount of money at a Sydney casino – mainly on poker machines – has resulted in the seizure of $900million of cocaine and multiple arrests across NSW.

Police formedย Strike Force Jillabenan in early 2020 after theย NSW Organised Crime Squad received information a number of men allegedly part of a criminal syndicate involved in a conspiracy to import three tonnes of the drug into Australia.ย 

The drugs were allegedly being sourced for the organised syndicate from North America and South America and would have been enough to supply the entire using population of NSW for one year.

The first major breakthrough was in October last year when the US Navy, acting on NSW police intelligence, allegedly seized 870kg of cocaine when they raided a vessel off the coast of Colombia.ย 

April this year saw another major breakthrough, with the US Coast Guard allegedly seized a further 900 kilograms of cocaine, after intercepting a boat travelling off the coast of Ecuador.

A man betting a significant amount of money at a casino (pictured)ย has resulted in the seizure of $900 million of cocaine and multiple arrests across NSW

A man betting a significant amount of money at a casino (pictured)ย has resulted in the seizure of $900 million of cocaine and multiple arrests across NSWย 

Police arresting one of the men (pictured right) after they uncovered a plot to import three tonnes of cocaine into NSW

Police arresting one of the men (pictured right) after they uncovered a plot to import three tonnes of cocaine into NSW

The haul was significant, with the seizure of cocaine (pictured) said to have a street value of $900 million

The haul was significant, with the seizure of cocaine (pictured) said to have a street value of $900 million

Two vessels were stopped by law enforcement in different operations off the coast of South America (pictured)

Two vessels were stopped by law enforcement in different operations off the coast of South America (pictured)

Three men – aged 37, 42 and 58 – were arrested in NSW on Thursday, June 3 and charged over their alleged roles in the global conspiracy.

Armed police and Polair were on the scene just after 8.30am on Thursday when the 42-year-old man attempted toย access the items he allegedly believed to contain cocaine at Morยญriset, in the Hunter region of NSW.ย 

His accomplice, the 37-year-old man, was nabbed by police in a nearby carpark.ย 

Shortly after the arrests, the Organised Crime Squad executed five search warrants at homes at Mortdale, Rockdale and Sans Souci in Sydney’s south as well as Paddington in Sydney’s east and Regents Park in western Sydney.

During the searches, investigators located and seized cash, electronic devices, documentation, and numerous mobile phones, some of which were encrypted devices.ย 

NSW Police confirmed they had co-operated with the US Drug Enforcement Administration as part of its investigations and seized a total of 1770kg of cocaine during two separate interdictions off the coast of South America.

The 42-year-old man and another man, 58, were both charged with two counts of conspiracy to supply a prohibited drug on a large commercial scale, large commercial drug supply and participating in a criminal group.ย 

The other man, 37, was charged with large commercial drug supply.

NSW Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said the cocaine seized represented roughly 12 months worth of the party drug for the state of NSW.

He added the trio of alleged drug importers could face life sentences following the record drug haul by authorities.

‘[Their] surprise has now obviously gone to anguish,’ he told 2GB.

All three men were refused bail to appear at local courts on Friday.

Police arrested a number of men (pictured) in raids on a series of addresses in Sydney as well as Newcastle

Police arrested a number of men (pictured) in raids on a series of addresses in Sydney as well as Newcastle

One of the accused (pictured) following his arrest on Thursday - police have seized three tonnes of cocaine, with a potential street value of $900 million

One of the accused (pictured) following his arrest on Thursday – police have seized three tonnes of cocaine, with a potential street value of $900 million

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