Police have seized approximately 384 kilograms of cocaine hidden in a digger near the Australian Capital Territory (ACT border).
The drugs, worth an estimated $140 million, were stashed in a digger which was en route to a small business in southern New South Wales
The 20-tonne Caterpillar excavator, from South Africa, was intercepted by Australian Border Force officials upon its arrival into Australia.
After officers came across the digger, they transferred it to Port Botany for it to be x-rayed before discovering the drugs hidden inside the hydraulic lifting arm of the machinery, ABC News reports.
ACT Policing Chief Police Officer (CPO) Ray Johnson said:
It’s clear to us that this group thought bringing drugs into our district in this type of machinery would avoid police interest. How wrong they were.
Police estimated the sheer amount of cocaine would have resulted in just under two million street deals – most of which would have been in the ACT.
Inevitably some of it was destined for the streets of the ACT. With such a large seizure some of it was clearly destined for other parts of the NSW district, perhaps the snow given it’s ski season.
Acting Deputy Commissioner of Operations at the Australian Border Force, Sharon Huey, said the way the drugs were hidden in the second-hand piece of machinery was ‘very professional’.
With the assistance of the Australian Federal Police we cut into the arm of the excavator where we found 384 packages of cocaine each weighing around one kilogram.
This is an incredibly sophisticated concealment, from the outside the excavator looked very normal in appearance. However a very specialised and highly sophisticated method of concealment had been made on a large piece of machinery.
Two men – Timothy Engstrom, 34, and Adam Hunter, 33 – have been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a controlled drug. They appeared in the Queanbeyan Local Court, New South Wales, this morning (July 15) via video link.
CPO Johnson said the men were connected to the business which the digger was en route to at the time of its interception. In order to raid the business, Johnson said the cocaine was replaced in the digger with an inert substance before being delivered to its intended destination, in Bungendore.
The pair did not apply for bail and have been remanded in custody until their next court date in September.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).