49-year-old Adelaide man jailed over $7 million cocaine import

Intelligence obtained during the Operation Ironside enabled the AFP to disrupt the plan to smuggle the drugs into Australia inside two welding machines.

An Adelaide man has been sentenced to six years’ imprisonment by the South Australia District Court on 26 February 2024 for his role in a plot to import 18kg of cocaine – worth an estimated $7 million – from Greece.

The man, 49, pleaded guilty in May 2022 to importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug after he was arrested and charged in September 2020.

Intelligence obtained during the Operation Ironside enabled the AFP to disrupt the plan to smuggle the drugs into Australia inside two welding machines.

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The AFP alerted the Australian Border Force (ABF) to select the air cargo consignment for examination when it arrived in South Australia in August 2020.

Image: Op Ironside (Source: AFP)

An x-ray of the welding machines revealed anomalies in the cargo. ABF officers removed a panel from one piece of machinery and found an electronic safe. A safe was also found inside the second welder, with each holding nine rectangular packages that contained a white powder.

Forensic testing by the AFP confirmed the 18 seized packages contained a total of about 18kg of cocaine, with an almost 80 per cent purity.

Image: Op Ironside (Source: AFP)

AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Rodger Braun said the amount of cocaine could have been sold to 20,000 people as ‘street level’ deals of cocaine.

“We prevented these drugs from reaching our community and also stopped about $7 million going into the pockets of those involved in this illegal venture.”

Detective A/Supt Braun added:

“The AFP is working closely with partners to make South Australia as hostile as possible for drug traffickers and stop them from profiting at the community’s expense.”

Image: Op Ironside (Source: AFP)

Inquiries by the AFP found the man had been engaged to receive the consignment, including sending more than $8000 to a business in Athens and initially arranging for the machines to be delivered to his former workplace without the knowledge of the business owners.

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He then set up a fake company and changed the delivery address to his home. The man attempted to collect the consignment from a freight forwarding business, where he was told it had been seized by authorities.

When police executed a search warrant at the man’s inner-city Adelaide home in September 2020 they seized electronic devices and documentation connected to the consignment. Following a search of the property, the man was arrested and charged.

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