Police in Australia found large loads of cocaine and meth worth an estimated $140 million hidden inside a vintage Bentley luxury sedan that was shipped from Canada earlier this month.
The mixed load of illicit in-demand street drugs was found stuffed into a regal 1960 Bentley S2 that was placed in a shipping container and sent by sea from Canada. It arrived at Port Botany in Sydney, according to New South Wales Police.
The container was X-rayed by Australian Border Force agents who spotted suspicious anomalies. Further examination of the Bentley revealed plastic wrapped bags of crystal methamphetamine stuffed behind the headlights, authorities said.
The border agents called in New South Wales Police, who partially dismantled the car. Officers found 161 kilograms of crystal meth in bags and 30 kilos of cocaine packed as tightly wrapped pressed bricks.
Australian authorities started a task force to investigate the importation with assistance from the RCMP, according to Australian authorities. The investigation was codenamed Strike Force Chime.
On Thursday, detectives backed by heavily armed members of the riot squad raided a residence in a suburb of Sydney called Rooty Hill. Two men were arrested there, aged 22 and 23.
It appears police removed the drugs, reassembled the car and allowed it to proceed on its journey to be delivered to whomever might be expecting it.
Police photographs of the raid shows the distinctive lines of a metallic silver Bentley in the driveway of a home, under an open car port. The left headlight is partially removed and dangling, and the left front tire is off, with tools scattered around. It seems police waited for someone to start trying to retrieve the load before swooping in.
Two men are shown in handcuffs sitting on the ground beside the car, guarded by police. Officers seized the Bentley and a Ford Focus, along with mobile phones and a computer. Several tools, including an angle grinder, were examined at the scene.
After a subsequent traffic stop on a highway about 740 kilometres north, almost at Brisbane, a third man, 25, who was driving, and a 25-year-old female passenger, were arrested. A search of the Toyota SUV uncovered an additional 2.2 kilograms of meth and about one million dollars in cash hidden under the cargo area, police said.
All four suspects were refused bail.
Police estimated the drugs had a combined value of Aus$155 million, which is about C$140 million.
The RCMP could not comment on the case prior to deadline. It is not yet known where in Canada the car was shipped from.
Earlier this week, Australian authorities announced the country’s largest ever seizure of fentanyl, saying it was also shipped from Canada, hidden in an industrial lathe.
That shipment, also by sea, was sent from Vancouver, National Post has learned, and arrived in Melbourne. It also contained more than one kind of illicit drug: 11 kilograms of high-purity fentanyl and 30 kilograms of meth.
There are no arrests in that case and Australian authorities issued a plea to the public for information.
In the fentanyl case, the RCMP would not confirm their involvement, but police sources confirmed to the Post the Mounties were heavily involved in the probe.
Earlier this week, RCMP spokeswoman Camille Boily-Lavoie told the Post that cooperation between international partners is essential in fighting transnational organized crime groups involved in large-scale drug trafficking.
“As the world becomes more interconnected, organized crime groups continue to expand internationally, seeking more direct access to lucrative foreign and criminal markets,” Boily-Lavoie said.
“A significant portion of the RCMP’s Federal Policing investigations are focused on Transnational and Serious Organized Crime networks that traffic multiple commodities, within Canada and internationally.”
There have been a glut of Canadians caught trying to profit from the high demand in drug-hungry Australia, where street drug prices are typically much higher than in Canada.
Some have made international headlines.
Earlier this year, two Canadian gangsters from Vancouver were convicted in Australia for running a multi-million-dollar drug smuggling network.
In 2019, Yaroslav Pastukhov, a music editor at Vice Media better known under the name Slava Pastuk, was convicted in Canada after recruiting young musicians, models, and former Vice interns to work as drug mules to smuggle coke on flights to Australia.
Four Canadians and an American recruited by Pastukhov were caught at Sydney airport with nearly 40 kilos of cocaine in their luggage.
In 2018, two Canadian women were caught with suitcases full of cocaine on a cruise ship in Australia. Their trove of glamor photos shared on social media along their luxurious trip sent the story viral.
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