Staggering 552 kg of cocaine worth $248 million intercepted in Sydney
17 Oct 2020, 15:25 GMT+10
- A shipment of approximately 552 kilograms of cocaine concealed in bags of banana pulp from Brazil has been seized in Sydney.
- Operation Stalwart began last month following information from U.S. Homeland Security Investigations.
- Australian Border Force (ABF) officers say they examined the consignment which arrived into Sydney from Brazil on 21 September.
SYDNEY, NSW, Australia – A joint investigation into a shipment of approximately 552 kilograms of cocaine concealed in bags of banana pulp from Brazil has resulted in the arrest of a 68-year-old man in Sydney.
Operation Stalwart began in September 2020 following information from U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) about a suspect shipment destined for Australia, a joint statement by Australian law enforcement authorities on Saturday said.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officers say they examined the consignment which arrived into Sydney from Brazil on 21 September 2020.
The refrigerated container held close to 2,000 boxes of assorted fruit pulp. Further examination revealed approximately 275 boxes in the shipment contained banana pulp.
ABF officers identified anomalies within these boxes, with closer examination revealing a white substance secreted in the bags of banana pulp. Preliminary testing of the substance returned a positive result for cocaine.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) Crime Scene Investigators removed the cocaine from the banana pulp bags and reconstructed the shipment in preparation for a controlled delivery.
The cocaine totalled approximately 552 kilograms, which has an estimated street value of a staggering $248 million.
A joint agency controlled delivery of the shipment started in early October 2020, where the boxes containing the banana pulp were delivered to a storage facility in south-west Sydney.
Throughout the following two weeks, police allege a 68-year-old man from the Sydney suburb of Forestville collected 139 boxes of the banana pulp. It will also be alleged in court the man searched through the bags of banana pulp seeking to remove the cocaine.
The joint investigation resulted in search warrants being executed on Friday, with assistance from ABF, HSI and the New South Wales Police Force State Crime Command Drug Squad.
The 68-year-old man was arrested at his residence in Forestville, in Sydney and has been charged with offences carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
During the search warrants, officers seized mobile phones, a laptop, plastic bags of banana pulp, a box labelled as banana pulp, a case of green stones susp