In a major victory for international law enforcement, a joint operation between American and Australian police forces has led to the seizure of 2.4 tons of cocaine worth an estimated $677 million. The successful operation marks the end of an international drug trafficking chain.
Record-Breaking Seizure at Sea
The cocaine was discovered on a ship sailing towards Australia from South America, and was intercepted by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in November of last year. The operation has been dubbed "Operation Beech" and is considered one of the largest drug seizures in the history of the Australian police force.
Mexican Cartel Connection and Wide-Reaching Arrests
The drug bust is linked to a Mexican cartel, and the amount of cocaine seized is equivalent to half of Australia's annual consumption. A total of twelve suspects were arrested in connection with the operation, including three alleged members of the "Australian arm of a drug syndicate." The trio was arrested on December 30th after making three trips to collect packages of fake cocaine.
Nine more arrests were made in the following weeks, including a traffic stop where over A$2 million in cash was discovered.
Sending a Message to Drug Traffickers
In a statement, Western Australia police commissioner Col Blanch praised the success of Operation Beech, saying, “This operation has enabled us to draw out those members of the syndicate who were equipped and prepared to receive and distribute a significant amount of illicit drugs within the community, who may have otherwise gone undetected and waited for the next consignment,” WA police commissioner Col Blanch said on Saturday. “The operation sends a message to international drug traffickers: ‘Your deadly drugs are not welcome here and we will work closely and innovatively with our on-shore and off-shore law enforcement partners to dismantle your operations.’” The bust has had a ripple effect, leading to the arrest of several additional individuals suspected of drug trafficking in Australia.
Among the twelve individuals charged is a 39-year-old male US citizen. The successful operation serves as a warning to drug traffickers around the world and demonstrates the commitment of international law enforcement to fighting the illegal drug trade.
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