Authorities seize 1.1 tonnes of cocaine sent to Sydney labelled as rat poison and plastics

The Australian Federal Police is seeking information about 1.1 tonnes of cocaine that was seized on Wednesday (9 November, 2022) from two shipping containers that arrived at Sydney’s Port Botany.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers examined the two containers and found about 550kg of cocaine inside each one.

The estimated street value of the combined 1.1 tonnes of cocaine in the containers was $440 million.

The first container ABF officers examined was marked as containing 20 pallets of rat poison and insecticide that had arrived after passing through the Port of Balboa in Panama.

The container was addressed to a business in Macquarie Park, NSW, and sent from Basel, Switzerland.

ABF officers removed 11 packages wrapped in black plastic that were on top of the front row of the pallets. The packages contained black duffle bags filled with blocks of a powdered substance that returned a presumptive positive result for cocaine. 

Each duffle bag weighed about 50kg with an estimated total of 550kg of cocaine seized from the bags.

ABF officers later that day intercepted a second container declared as containing “plastic articles” sent from Texas, USA, to Norwest, NSW.

It also contained 11 packages wrapped in plastic that had black duffle bags inside. The bags contained blocks of a substance that returned a presumptive positive result for cocaine. Officers seized about 550kg of cocaine from the second container.

AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Luke Wilson said the tonne of cocaine in the containers would have caused significant harm to the Australian community if it had reached the streets.

“This seizure highlights how the strong partnership between the AFP and ABF is protecting Australians by removing these deadly substances from circulating in our community.

“Unfortunately Australians are willing to pay sky high prices for drugs such as cocaine and organised criminals around the world are only too willing to feed this appetite.

“The AFP is committed to working with our partners to ensure these drugs do not enter the country and that anyone attempting to profit from ventures such as this will face justice.”

ABF Acting Commander Trade and Travels Operations East, Elke West, said criminal syndicates continue to use a range of methods in their attempts to smuggle dangerous drugs into Australia.

“This year alone, we have seen attempts to conceal drugs inside everything from cars to tiles,” A/g Commander West said.

“Despite the method of concealment criminals try to use, ABF officers and our valued law enforcement partners continue to remain one step ahead.

“What we see here is another significant seizure, which goes to show that if you attempt this type of audacious criminal behaviour, you will be caught out.”