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Fake cocaine helps break records — RT World News


Australian authorities lured drug traffickers after intercepting shipment worth $677million

Australian police have revealed details of a covert operation in which they caught large-scale drug dealers by replacing cocaine with identically packaged gypsum plaster on a boat which, unbeknownst to the gang, had been intercepted weeks earlier.

The joint US-Australian investigation, called “Operation Beech”, led to the arrest of 12 people and prevented 2.4 tonnes of cocaine from reaching Western Australia, police said on Saturday. The cocaine was valued at A$1 billion ($677 million) and reportedly equals a six-month supply for the whole country.

The covert operation was launched in November, when the United States Drug Enforcement Administration intercepted the shipment of cocaine bound for Australia off the coast of Ecuador. Police said the drug traffickers, who had links to a Mexican cartel, were apparently unaware of the seizure and expected the boat to arrive in Western Australia around December 28.

Western Australian police replaced the shipment with fake cocaine and dumped it about 40 nautical miles west of Perth. Officers then monitored the floating cargo with drones and helicopters. On December 30, they arrested three men aboard a boat who had made several trips to the area and collected about half of the fake drugs. Weeks later, police arrested nine other suspects, some of them during a traffic stop in which they found more than A$2 million in cash. A 39-year-old American man was among those arrested.

“The operation sends a message to international drug traffickers: your deadly drugs are not welcome here,” said Western Australia Police Commissioner Colonel Blanch.

The arrest in Australia, believed to be the largest in the country’s history, came to light about a month after New Zealand police confirmed they had seized more than 3.5 tonnes of cocaine which had been found floating in the ‘ocean. The capture was the largest in New Zealand history and, given its size, authorities speculated it was headed for Australia. The seizure included enough cocaine to supply the New Zealand market for 30 years.

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