Cocaine hidden in cocoa

Authorities say they have seized about 300 kilograms of cocaine imported into Melbourne via an air cargo consignment of cocoa powder packed on pallets.

Two Mexican men (aged 33 and 34) are set to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court, with the drugs said to have an estimated street value of around $105m.

According to a joint statement, the 34-year-old Mexican man arrived at Melbourne International Airport on a flight from Los Angeles in early November.

The man was examined by Australian Border Force officers, who found him in possession of a small amount of cocaine.

He was detained and an investigation got underway, initiated by the Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce.

The JOCTF involves the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Victoria Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Police enquiries led to the seizure of a consignment labelled as ‘coffee’ and ‘cocoa powder’ from a business in Altona in Melbourne’s west.

It is alleged that within the consignment were the 300kgs of cocaine.

The investigation culminated this week with raids at homes in Port Melbourne and Balaclava.

Both men have been charged with the importation a commercial quantity of cocaine.

AFP Commander John Beveridge in Melbourne said the investigation required significant cooperation.

“During this investigation, we used the AFP International Network and worked closely with officers at the newly opened AFP post in Mexico. We were able to obtain intelligence on this organised criminal syndicate from the source and trace their activities across the globe,” Commander Beveridge said.

ABF Acting Regional Commander Victoria, Rod Winchester, said this was a satisfying result.

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana said this was a great result for the Victorian community.

“Drugs are not harmless, they are not safe, and they have had deadly consequences for some people,” Assistant Commissioner Fontana said.

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