Drugs worth $182 million seized in coffee beans shipment

The Australian Federal Police has launched a major investigation after more than $182 million worth of illicit drugs was seized in Melbourne, concealed inside a shipment of coffee beans.

The AFP launched its investigation this week, after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers uncovered the illegal import containing 200 kilograms of methamphetamine and six kilograms of cocaine, hidden inside the consignment of coffee beans upon its arrival into Melbourne from overseas.

On 18 September 2022, ABF officers in Melbourne x-rayed a full container load of coffee beans sent via sea cargo from Panama.

The x-rays indicated anomalies and further examination identified substances that presumptively tested positive to methamphetamine and cocaine.

The illicit drugs have a combined estimated street value of more than $182 million.

If this shipment of drugs had reached Australian streets, this amount of methamphetamine could have been sold for approximately 2,000,000 street-level deals with a total estimated street value of up to $180 million.

The cocaine could have been sold for approximately 30,000 street level deals with a total estimated street value of up to $2.4 million.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jason McArthur said the seizure demonstrated how drug smugglers used any product and method to import drugs into Australia.

“This significant seizure, concealed inside a shipment of coffee beans, demonstrates we are one step ahead of these criminal networks,” Det. Supt. McArthur said.

“The AFP, together with our law enforcement partners, including our offshore partner agencies working in collaboration with the AFP’s International Command Network, are committed to protecting Australians from harmful, illicit drug imports and unleashing maximum damage to the criminal environment.”

“The AFP’s investigations into the criminal syndicate involved, including those responsible both on and offshore, remains ongoing. We are urging anyone with information to please come forward,” he said.​​

ABF Acting Commander Uriah Turner, Maritime and Enforcement South, said ABF officers are vigilant to the methods organised crime groups use to try to illegally import drugs into the country.

“Our technical expertise and sophisticated technology means that we will find the drugs, regardless of the method of concealment these criminals use,” A/g Commander Turner said.

“The ABF is committed to protecting the community from harmful drugs and working closely with our law enforcement partners to stop the tide of methamphetamine and cocaine coming into Australia.

“This seizure shows that strong partnerships can prevent and disrupt organised crime syndicates who try to import illicit substances into the country.”