AFP charges third WA man over 300kg cocaine haul

AFP charges third WA man over 300kg cocaine haul

The AFP has charged a third man wanted for importing more than 300 kilograms of cocaine into Western Australia after he was found last night allegedly hiding under a home spa.

Police will allege the man, 49, had a loaded gun in a bag next to him when AFP Special Operations Tactical Response Team officers found him in a secret compartment under a spa on a back patio of a Found Byford property during a search.

The man is expected to appear in the Perth Magistrates Court today (Thursday 23 March 2023) charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. The maximum penalty for this offense is life imprisonment.

AFP officers arrested the man after a six-week manhunt, which began in early February after police recovered a capsized boat from the sea off WA’s Great Southern region and allegedly found several packages of cocaine inside found

The police believe that three men were on board the seven-metre long boat and collected the drugs from the sea off Albany before the vessel capsized.

The boat was found partially submerged farther west a week after three men were rescued from the sea off Albany and told authorities they were fishing when their cabin cruiser capsized and sank.

After the drugs were found, police began searching for the men and a magistrate in Perth then issued warrants for their arrest.

One of the men, 36, was arrested by Northern Territory Police Force officers later that month (February 15) after he was found at a home in rural Darwin.

On March 9, 2023, AFP officers arrested a second man (45) in Perth’s northeastern suburbs.

All three men were charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

One of the men charged allegedly owned the cabin cruiser, called Aces and Eights, where the drugs were found. Another bag of cocaine washed ashore near Denmark the day before the boat was recovered.

How and where the drugs were dumped into the sea before their alleged collection by the crew of the Aces and Eights is still under investigation.

AFP Sergeant Kristen Swan said the AFP had worked tirelessly to track down the 49-year-old man and thanked the community for their assistance since the first packages of cocaine were found.

“Our investigation has not ended with the charging of these three men, we continue to work with our partners to track down anyone involved in this importation,” she said.

“The seizure of more than 300kg of cocaine prevented millions of dollars in drug profits from flowing back into a transnational criminal syndicate to finance another illegal enterprise or lavish lifestyle.

“While law-abiding Australians work hard to earn an honest day’s wage, criminals involved in the drug trade are undermining our economy. Illegal drugs also fuel more crime, domestic violence, trauma on our roads and the risks of violence in our suburbs.

“The AFP’s Drug Harm Index estimates that the seizure of this amount of cocaine saved the community more than $190 million in drug-related harm, including associated crime, health care and lost productivity.”

Inquiries are ongoing for anyone who helped the man avoid detection for six weeks.

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