Authorities in Austrlia have arrested four crew members from the Cyprus-registerd bulk carrier Kypros Bravery after seizing 416 kilograms of cocaine, or about 917 pounds, that the accused allegedly offloaded at sea.
The amount is the biggest haul of illicit drugs ever confiscated in South Australia, worth an estimated $166 million Australian dollars.
The investigation was led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with assistance from the Australian Border Force (ABF), South Australia Police (SAPOL), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the Department of Home Affair.
Police allege crew members from the Kypros Bravery offloaded the shipment of drugs overboard once in South Australian waters in mid March.
The vessel was searched by Australian Border Force officers after docking in Port Adelaide on March 17, according to Australian Border Force Acting Chief Superintendent Alex Kelsall. “During the search, ABF officers located evidence that led them to believe the vessel had potentially been involved in the drop off of a significant quantity of drugs at sea,” said Kelsall.
An extensive search of the area found about 400kg of cocaine “a substantial distance” offshore and the drugs were towed to shore.
The four men, aged between 29 and 44, could be facing a life sentence having been charged with importation of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely cocaine. More arrests are possible as the investigation continues.
“While the alleged cocaine importation is the largest ever detected by law enforcement in South Australia, it is most certain the drugs would have been trafficked to other Australian states,’’ said AFP Assistant Commissioner Peter Harvey said.
“We are sending a strong and clear message today to organised crime. We will not stop. We are coming after you,” he said.