Photo credit: Western Australia Police Force

An international covert operation has seized a record 2.4 tonne of cocaine worth $1 billion linked to a Mexican drug cartel. The joint operation has prevented the cocaine from entering Western Australia with the arrest of 12 people.

The cocaine, linked to a Mexican drug cartel, had a value of $1 billion making the seizure one of the biggest that Australian police have been involved in. Western Australia Police Force have released details of what is believed to be the country’s biggest-ever drug bust. Australian police say an “Operation Beech” commenced in November after 2.4 tonnes of cocaine, that was destined for Australia, was intercepted by the Sydney Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) off the South American coastline.

Twelve suspects have been arrested, Western Australian state police said in a statement, releasing details for the first time of an operation that began last November.

Intelligence suggested the alleged drug traffickers were unaware of the seizure and held the belief the cocaine remained in transit to Australia. This meant the “Australian arm of the syndicate” continued to prepare to receive their shipment on about 28 December.

Western Australian Police substituted the cargo using an inert substance and packaging identical to that used by the cartel. Police dropped the inert substance about 40 nautical miles west of the Perth coastline on 28 December 2022. It will be alleged that the shore party, utilising two vessels, made multiple efforts to locate and retrieve the cargo.

Three suspects were arrested on December 30, with approximately 1.2 tonnes of the inert substance, after allegedly making three trips out through rough seas to collect the packages.

During the operation, further arrests were made, resulting in the seizure of an estimate $1 billion worth of cocaine. The 12 accused, some of whom are from America, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, are progressing through WA’s courts. “Western Australian Police acknowledge the assistance provided by other state jurisdictions during this operation,” as it is said in the statement.

Source: Western Australia Police Force