Cocaine drop off australia
The cocaine drop off was sized off Yorke Peninsula, according to Australian Federal Police (AFP). The four Filipino seafarers who were crew members of an international bulk shipping carrier now face charges relating to the illicit drug importation. Image Credit: ABF.gov.au

Manila: Australian authorities have seized 416 kg of cocaine dropped off at sea that was later traced to a bulk shipping carrier. Four Filipino seafarers are now face drug charges in Australia.

The reported quantity of cocaine is the largest-ever drug haul detected in South Australia and came as ma result of extensive multi-agency probe against transnational organised crime, the Australian government said.

“The four men, aged between 29 and 44, have been charged with importation of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely cocaine, contrary to section 307 (1) of the Criminal Code 1995,” the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, South Australia Police and the Department of Home Affairs stated in a joint statement dated March 31.

This seizure led to a joint agency investigation, codenamed "Operation Lithgow", according to the Australian Border Force (ABF) website.

The Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed on Monday (April 4, 2022) the arrest of the four Filipino citizens.

Cocain seized in Australia
An investigation targeting transnational organised crime has seized 416kg of cocaine off Yorke Peninsula in Australia. It was the biggest haul of illicit drugs ever confiscated in South Australia, worth an estimated street value of more than A$166 million dollars ($125 million). Image Credit: ABF.gov.au

“The Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Philippine Consulate General in Melbourne and the Philippine Embassy in Canberra, Australia, is closely monitoring the situation of the four (4) Filipino seafarers of Cyprus-flagged Safe Bulkers vessel Kypros Bravery, in Adelaide, South Australia, who were arrested for alleged importation of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs,” the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) stated on Monday. The Consulate General is closely coordinating with Australian authorities on the case, it added.

If convicted, the Filipinos could face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, the authorities added.

The ABF said officers first searched a bulk carrier merchant vessel in Port Adelaide on March 17 and found evidence that it may have been involved in a drop off of drugs at sea.

AFP assistant commissioner Peter Harvey said the drug bust was the result of a multi-agency investigation into organised international crime.

The combined forces of Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Border Force (ABF), South Australia Police, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, and the Department of Home Affair, worked together on the case. The 416 kg of cocaine has an estimated street value of A$166 million (about $125 million).

“The investigation was launched in mid-March after an assessment of intelligence that suggested a commercial bulk-carrier ship, the Kypros Bravery, was to be used to traffic illicit drugs into Australia,” Harvey was quoted as saying.

Harvey said the ABF “conducted a methodical, arduous, and endless search of the ocean area and located the shipment on the 18th of March”.

The DFA said consulate representatives were able to speak with the seafarers, according to the Philippine News Agency.

“All four are in good health and are being treated well by Australian authorities,” the department stated, adding that the seafarers also requested that their families be made aware of their situation.

“The four Filipino seafarers were individually provided public defenders when they appeared at Port Adelaide Magistrates Court on 01 April 2022,” the DFA said.

“The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Canberra has also been in touch with the shipping/manning agency of the cargo vessel,” the DFA stated. The department said the Philippine government “expects all Filipinos to uphold the rule of law wherever they may be”.