Two WA arrests over cocaine mail imports and cash hauls

The Australian Federal Police has charged a Perth man for allegedly importing cocaine through the mail from Northern Ireland to Western Australia and for dealing with more than $350,000 cash suspected to be proceeds of crime.

The man, 32, appeared in Perth Magistrates Court yesterday (12 May, 2023) on seven charges and was remanded in custody to reappear on 26 May.

He is now facing a total of 12 charges as a result of the AFP and Australian Border Force (ABF) drug trafficking investigation, after he was initially charged on 31 March with five alleged offences.

A Morley man, 33, has also been charged over some of the seized cash.

The AFP launched an investigation on 15 March (2023), after ABF officers in Perth examined an international mail consignment and allegedly found about 561g of cocaine concealed in soup sachets.

Later that month, ABF officers in Sydney intercepted a second package addressed to the same Scarborough residence and allegedly found about 400g of cocaine concealed in curry sauce sachets.

The AFP executed search warrants on 31 March at properties in Scarborough and Perth. Investigators seized $116,480 cash, a mobile phone, about 28g of cocaine, 5g methamphetamine, 8g MDMA and 15g of cannabis from the Perth address, and allegedly found packaging at the Scarborough home which had traces of what they suspect to be illicit drugs.

The man, 32, who was allegedly linked to both properties, was subsequently arrested and charged with five offences relating to the cash and drugs found at the warrants. He was later granted bail by the Perth Magistrates Court.

Intelligence gained through the investigation resulted in another search warrant executed on 1 April at a Morley residence, where the AFP found $234,850 cash, which was allegedly stored there for the 32-year-old.

The investigation also led to ABF officers in Perth intercepting another consignment on 5 April, which they suspected was imported by the same man. Packets labelled as curry sauce allegedly instead contained a total of about 552g of cocaine.

The AFP executed another search warrant at the man’s Perth home on Thursday (11 May) and on two cars and a motorcycle linked to him and allegedly found small amounts of what they suspect to be cocaine, cannabis and three MDMA tablets. The substances were seized for further forensic examination.

The man was arrested and charged with the seven additional offences, including the alleged importation of the three cocaine consignments.

The Morley resident, 33, has been charged over the $234,850 suspected illicit cash.  He is due to appear in court on 23 June on one count of dealing in proceeds of crime worth $100,000 or more, contrary to section 400.4(2) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth). This offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

AFP Inspector Matt Taylor said the AFP was committed to working with partners to ensure people could not profit from exploiting the wider community through the illicit drug trade.

“While many air mail or air cargo imports may seem like relatively small amounts of illicit substances, combined they can equate to millions of individual street deals and can cause significant harm,” Inspector Taylor said. 

“Across Australia, there were 1800 cocaine-related hospitalisations in 2020-21 – almost five people each day on average. There were 12,400 hospitalisations over the same period related to methamphetamine use – 33 people each day on average.*

“Illicit drugs can cause significant physiological, psychological, financial and social harms, not only to users but to those around them – those drug-related hospitalisations are an impost on the health system that negatively impacts the entire community.

“The AFP will continue to work with partners to protect the community by disrupting attempts to import drugs into Australia.”

ABF Superintendent Aviation Goods James Payne said as custodians of the nation’s border, ABF officers played a crucial role in detecting harmful drugs coming through the international mail system.

“Criminals will try to hide illicit substances in a variety of creative ways, however our officers have many detection methods at their disposal, with officer intuition and use of innovative technologies often the driving forces behind these kind of discoveries,” Superintendent Payne said.