The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has on Friday charged two senior crew members from a bulk cargo carrier for their alleged roles in the importation of 849.5kg of cocaine into Western Australia.

The men – the vessel’s master, 43, and chief engineer, 39, both from Montenegro were on Friday charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine and they face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment if convicted.

The police will allege the pair knew cocaine was hidden onboard the cargo carrier and planned to drop it overboard off the Fremantle coast to be collected by another group. The master allegedly instructed other crew members to alter the vessel’s course as it neared Fremantle Port to rendezvous with another vessel. It will be alleged they planned to meet with a cabin cruiser, named ‘No Fixed Address’. But police will allege the planned exchange failed. The men allegedly then attempted to conceal the drugs by filling the ballast tank that the drugs were hidden in with water and instructed members of the crew to backdate logs and provide false information to shipping agent authorities.

The drugs were found last month (May 2023) after a joint agency investigation. The Police at that time arrested three men, aged 21, 25 and 29, who had been travelling on the cabin cruiser and charged them for their alleged involvement in the attempted import.

Australian Border Force (ABF) Commander Operations West, Ranjeev Maharaj, said that cocaine shipments were being seized at Australia’s border at record levels, and that the ABF worked in close collaboration with partner agencies both domestic and abroad to combat this criminal behaviour.

Video credit: Australian Federal Police