30 June 2022

Griffith man faces court over alleged plan to import 1.2 tonnes of cocaine

| Chris Roe
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police officers in warehouse

AFP officers raid a property in Tharbogang, near Griffith Photo: AFP Media.

A Griffith man appeared in Sydney Central Local Court on Wednesday (29 June) to face charges over his role in a plan to import 1.2 tonnes of cocaine to Australia from Ecuador in 2021.

Several other men were also charged after the failed venture was discovered by the Australian Federal Police during Operation Ironside.

The operation was launched in April last year to investigate the multi-national organised crime syndicate behind the plot to transfer the cocaine between vessels at sea before importing the huge shipment into Australia.

It is alleged that the 36-year-old Griffith man acted on behalf of the syndicate and gave $120,000 in cash to Sydney-based associates to pay a crew of men who were to collect the cocaine from a vessel at sea and transport it back to the east coast of NSW.

AFP officers raided a property in Tharbogang, outside Griffith on 26 May this year and seized items including encrypted devices, clothing, luggage, jewellery and weapons.

police officers in farm shed

AFP officers raid a property in Tharbogang, near Griffith. Photo: AFP Media.

The man was charged with dealing in proceeds of crime and faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years’ imprisonment.

AFP Commander Kate Ferry said they continue to chase leads 12 months after the operation and won’t hesitate to lay further charges.

“The AFP is relentless in its pursuit to stop transnational serious organised criminals who flood Australia with drugs and weapons, and who wash billions of dollars through the Australian economy,” she said.

“While the focus is often on the principals of these criminal groups, it is vitally important to bring to account those who act as facilitators, as is alleged with this matter.”

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Operation Ironside was the biggest organised crime operation in the AFP’s history.

In Australia, 383 alleged offenders have been charged with 2,340 offences.

More than 6.3 tonnes of illicit drugs, 147 weapons/firearms and $55 million in cash has been seized.

Forty-two offenders have already pleaded guilty or have been sentenced.

Globally, excluding Australian statistics, more than 700 alleged offenders have been charged and 65 tonnes of illicit drugs seized.

Original Article published by Chris Roe on Region Riverina.

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