Pubdate: Thu, 21 Sep 2006
5 CANADIANS ARRESTED IN AUSTRALIA FOR COCAINE SMUGGLING
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - Five Canadian nationals and an Australian-New Zealand dual citizen have been arrested in Australia for allegedly smuggling 135 kilograms of cocaine from Canada concealed in computer monitors, police said Thursday.
The men were also charged with smuggling 120,000 ecstasy tablets found by customs officials in the same shipping container of computer equipment at the eastern coast port city Brisbane on Sept. 8, police said in a statement.
Police described the seizure as the fifth-largest of cocaine in Australian history.
The five Canadians were arrested at various locations across Brisbane and the Australian-New Zealand dual citizen in Sydney late Wednesday, police said.
Australian Federal Police manager Mike Phelan said Canadian law-enforcement authorities were also investigating the shipment.
"The AFP believes the people who have been arrested and charged in this operation were part of a highly sophisticated international drug-importation and distribution network," Mr. Phelan said.
"The AFP is currently liaising with its law-enforcement colleagues in Canada and conducting further inquiries in relation to this significant importation and the international syndicate allegedly responsible for it," he added.
The six men appeared in courts in Brisbane and Sydney on Thursday. They each face sentences of life imprisonment and the equivalent of more than .....fines.
One of the Canadians, #####, 29, of Abbotsford, B.C., was denied bail and did not enter pleas when be appeared in Brisbane court. He was scheduled to appear again later Thursday with the other Canadians.
His lawyer Peter Shields told the magistrate that Mr. ### is a father of three who was on vacation in Australia.
The Australian who was allegedly to take delivery of the drugs ######, 62, was ordered by a Sydney magistrate Thursday to remain in custody until his next court appearance Wednesday. He entered no plea.
Australia: Canadians Held In Australian Drug Bust
Pubdate: Thu, 21 Sep 2006
CANADIANS HELD IN AUSTRALIAN DRUG BUST
Cocaine, Ecstasy Shipped
Officials in Australia say they have bust a major international drug syndicate involving five Canadian men after a routine check by customs officers uncovered 135 kilograms of cocaine and 120,000 Ecstasy tablets hidden in computer equipment.
A Canadian man was arrested while trying to get the drugs, Australian Federal Police said early today.
Four others were detained in police raids across Brisbane, the capital of the state of Queensland. An Australian man police said was connected to the suspects was arrested in Sydney.
Police put the value of the cocaine at $ and said the Ecstacy tablets were worth $
Customs chief executive officer Michael Carmody said it was a sophisticated attempt to beat Australia's border controls.
"This operation has again demonstrated the value of customs container X-ray facilities, which are located in all of Australia's major sea cargo ports," Mr. Carmody said.
Australian agents were working with RCMP to break what is believed to be an international syndicate, the police spokesman said.
Customs targeted the container for inspection at its X-ray facility in Brisbane on Sept. 8.
The container -- which originated in Delta, B.C. -- held 420 computer monitors.
Analysis of the X-ray images prompted customs officers to unpack the shipment. Inside 33 of the monitors, officers discovered 136 sealed packets of cocaine and 36 packets of Ecstasy tablets.
After the drugs were substituted for an inert substance, federal police investigators identified the men allegedly responsible for the importation and tracked their movements.
The shipment was the second seized in four months from Canada. The first was the seizure of 1.2 million Ecstasy tablets in Melbourne in June that resulted in four arrests.
Mike Phelan, the Australian Federal Police's national manager: border and international network, called the seizure of two large consignments of drugs from Canada in such a short period of time unusual.
The five Canadian men --ranging in age from 25 to 39 -- have been charged with a number of offences, including importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. A 62-year-old Sydney man has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
The maximum penalty for offences of this kind is a fine of $ and/or life imprisonment.
The suspects were to appear in court today.
The seizure is the largest interception of cocaine in Australia since July, 2001, when nearly one tonne of the drug was seized off Western Australia.