Australia: Cargo ship captain charged after 320 kilograms of cocaine seized in drug bust off WA coast

The ABC reports

The captain of a cargo ship has been charged over his role in the attempted smuggling of 320 kilograms of cocaine onto Western Australia’s shores.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) allege the 51-year-old man from Montenegro carried cocaine, worth about $128 million, on a bulk shipping carrier called Interlink Veracity that he was in charge of.

It’s claimed the man loaded the drugs onto the cargo vessel at an overseas port, then travelled into Australian waters.

On May 14 the drugs, wrapped in plastic packaging, were dumped into the ocean about 28 kilometres off Port Hedland in WA’s north-west, police said.

The packages were then retrieved by two men who had sailed out on a small boat.

Police arrest a man
An AFP officer puts the captain of the bulk carrier in a car after his arrest.(Supplied: Australia Federal Police)

A 49-year-old New South Wales man and a 37-year-old German national were arrested the next day for collecting the commercial quantity of cocaine.

Police will allege they found the drugs, wrapped in 1kg blocks, in a campervan in Port Hedland.

Several packets purportedly containing cocaine
Police say the drugs were destined for the east coast. (Supplied: Australian Federal Police)

Police say a forensic examination of the ship captain’s mobile revealed messages relating to the drug smuggling attempt, after which the man was also arrested.

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner John Tanti said the initial arrests were only the beginning of a multi-agency investigation into the alleged drug trafficking enterprise.

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