The Montenegro national, 51, was arrested by the AFP on the vessel Interlink Veracity on Monday, accused of allegedly being part of a smuggling plot in Port Hedland, in the state’s north west, earlier this month,says an article published in Dailymail.
He has been charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs and is expected to face South Hedland court on Tuesday.
The arrest comes after authorities seized 320kilograms of cocaine in Port Hedland on May 15 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 they found the men inside a campervan with the cocaine shipment, which had been divided into 1kg blocks.
Last week, the AFP forensically examined a mobile phone seized from the 51-year-old and allegedly uncovered messages relating to the drug importation.
Police will allege the 51-year-old man smuggled the cocaine onto the cargo vessel at an overseas port.
He allegedly waited until the vessel was anchored in Australian waters about 28 kilometres off Port Hedland on 14 May, and dropped the packages into the ocean for retrieval.
The two other men charged – a German national and a NSW man – 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.
‘Trusted insiders are one of the highest threats to the integrity of Australia’s cargo supply chains,’ Acting Assistant Commissioner Tanti said.
‘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 AFP is also working with international partners to target these organised crime syndicates offshore and ensure they cannot profit at the expense of Australian communities.’
WA Police Force Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said the overnight arrest further demonstrated that people involved in the alleged importation of illicit drugs would be actively pursued.
‘It is our clear objective to systematically pull apart the syndicates that are responsible for the trafficking of these deadly illicit drugs to Western Australia,’ Deputy Commissioner Blanch said.
‘Our message to those who consider becoming involved in drug trafficking operations is simple – don’t. We will pursue you regardless of your role or your location in the world.’
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 German national, 37, and the NSW man, 49, 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.
Did you subscribe to our daily newsletter?
It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe!