Two men arrested after 139kg of cocaine found on cargo ship

Two Victorian men will face court after 139 kilograms of cocaine were found hidden inside luxury buses in an international shipment that arrived in Adelaide, with border force officials saying cocaine shipments are being seized in the country at “unprecedented levels”.

The men, aged 22 and 19, are charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of cocaine and face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.

The seizure of the 139kg of cocaine had an estimated street value of $45m and stopped a potential 695,000 individual street deals.

‘Operation Silkwood’ began in January after intelligence identified an alleged importation of cocaine concealed within a consignment of 13 luxury buses on board an international cargo ship destined for Adelaide, via Perth.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers conducted a search of the buses on January 28, 2024, after the ship arrived into Fremantle Harbour.

During the search, ABF officers located a number of packages in four of the buses. A presumptive test of the packages returned a positive result for cocaine. The matter was subsequently referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The buses were offloaded upon their arrival into Adelaide, with the ABF and south Australia police providing assistance during the operation.

On February 3, 2024, the men allegedly forced entry into the buses and retrieved the consignment.

The men were subsequently arrested in a hotel in port Adelaide and charged. They were refused bail and remanded in custody.

Melinda Adam, AFP detective superintendent said the AFP worked tirelessly with its partners to tackle criminal groups attempting to smuggle drugs into Australia.

“To protect the Australian community, the AFP and its partners will continue to make Australia a hostile environment for transnational serious organised crime syndicates, both onshore and offshore.

“Unfortunately, Australia is viewed as a lucrative market for organised crime groups due to the comparatively higher prices for illicit substances – but the risks are high for transitional serious organised crime syndicates as Australian law enforcement cooperation has never been stronger,” Adam said.