Ship Captain Charged Over WA 320kg Cocaine Plot

Tuesday 24/05/22

The AFP has charged the 51-year-old Master of an international bulk shipping carrier for his alleged role in the plot to import 320 kilograms of cocaine into Australia via regional Western Australia.

The Montenegrin national, is expected to face South Hedland court today (Tuesday, 24 May 2022) after he was arrested on the cargo vessel Interlink Veracity yesterday and later charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs.

The AFP arrested the man after a forensic examination of a mobile device seized from him last week allegedly uncovered messages relating to the drug importation.

AFP, WAPF and ABF officers also searched the 179m bulk carrier again yesterday as part of ongoing inquiries into the alleged drug trafficking enterprise, which was disrupted after a multiagency investigation.

Authorities seized the cocaine – worth about $128 million – in Port Hedland on 15 May and arrested two men who they alleged had collected the plastic wrapped drugs from the ocean off the coast of the Pilbara town.

Police will allege that the 51-year-old man smuggled the cocaine onto the cargo vessel Interlink Veracity at an overseas port.  He allegedly waited until the vessel was anchored in Australian waters about 28 kilometres off Port Hedland on 14 May (2022), and dropped the packages into the ocean for retrieval.

The two other men charged  allegedly used a small boat to pick up the drugs from the water that evening.

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner John Tanti said the AFP and its partners had warned that the seizure of the drugs and initial arrests were just the start of the investigation, and they would be relentless in pursuing anyone involved in the venture.

“Trusted insiders are one of the highest threats to the integrity of Australia’s cargo supply chains,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Tanti said. 

Information and Image sourced from here.