SYDNEY – Australian authorities thwarted a plot to import about 300 kilograms (661.3 pounds) of Peruvian cocaine, a stash valued at $78.4 million, the Australian Federal Police said in a statement on Saturday.
Two Australian men, 57 and 63, were arrested in raids in Sydney, the state capital of New South Wales, and were charged with alleged conspiracy to import cocaine into Australia from Peru, according to the AFP statement.
A 34-year-old woman has also been arrested in Brisbane, in Queensland, over her alleged involvement in the plot to bring the drug from Peru via Singapore and Papua New Guinea, the statement added.
The operation, called Harmanecka, began in June 2017, after the AFP identified an Australian and PNG based syndicate, who were planning to import drugs into Australia from Peru.
In late 2017, the authorities had identified a sea container aboard a cargo vessel headed from Peru to Singapore, which was then to be sent to Papua New Guinea.
According to the AFP, the syndicate expected to retrieve 300 kg of cocaine, which was to be imported to Australia via small craft through the Torres Strait (northeast of the oceanic country).
However, the attempt by the syndicate was unsuccessful, and no cocaine was found when the container was opened in PNG, according to the statement.
The investigations had also exposed a second plan between the Peruvian and the Australian syndicate to import more drugs into Australia.
However, law enforcement agencies in Peru managed to bust the Peruvian syndicate and seized approximately 1.2 tons of cocaine, and detained several people, including a Peruvian businessman whose identity was not disclosed.
The operation in Peru also led to police raids in the states of Queensland, New South Wales and the neighboring country of Papua New Guinea.