SYDNEY – Australian authorities said on Thursday they seized a cocaine cache of 300 kilograms which allegedly came from Mexico in a shipment of coffee and cocoa powder, and that two citizens of that country have been arrested.
It is estimated that the drug, which was hidden in pallets of cocoa powder and sent via air cargo to Melbourne, could have been worth over $79 million on the black market, according to a statement from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and other agencies.
The two Mexicans, 33 and 34 years of age and whose names were not released, will appear before an Australian court in relation to this operation which began when one of them arrived in Melbourne from Los Angeles with a small amount of drugs and was arrested by the authorities.
Police investigations led to the discovery of the cocaine stash in a commercial premises in a suburb of Melbourne, as well as searches in two residences and led to the arrest of the two Mexicans, who face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
“We were able to obtain intelligence on this organized criminal syndicate from the source and trace their activities across the globe,” AFP Commander John Beveridge said in a statement.
Australians are among the world’s largest per capita consumers of illicit drugs; one kilogram of cocaine can cost 100 times more than its price in Latin America.
Eighty percent of the cocaine consignments entering Australia are manufactured mainly in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia and then hidden between goods shipped at the ports of Colombia, Mexico and Panama, according to official data.