Two men will remain behind bars charged with importation offences and 384 kilograms of cocaine found hidden in an excavator has been seized in the biggest drug interception co-ordinated by ACT police.
The men were charged after a joint operation involving NSW, federal and ACT officers along with those from Australian Border Force.
A statement from law enforcement agencies on Monday said two Queanbeyan men aged 33 and 34 were arrested at a Bungendore business on Sunday.
It followed a controlled delivery of the excavator which was intercepted by ABF in June and inspected, the statement said.
It’s alleged the second-hand machine from South Africa concealed about 384 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of about $144 million. Adam Phillip Hunter and Timothy John Engstrom faced Queanbeyan Local Court on Monday charged with importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drug and attempting to possess a border-controlled drug.
They remain in custody with bail not applied for and formally refused. ABF Acting Deputy Commissioner Operations Sharon Huey said the concealment of the cocaine was “incredibly sophisticated”.
“But through our joint efforts, we’ve been able to disrupt this syndicate and stop these harmful substances from infiltrating our borders,” Ms Huey said in a statement on Monday.
“Our officers have highly sophisticated technology at their disposal and this detection really shows no matter the lengths criminals go to – even if they weld drugs into machinery – we have the skills and equipment to find these concealments.” A brief is to be served to Queanbeyan Local Court for Hunter’s matters by September 9.
Engstrom is due to come before the court on the same date.