Papua New Guinea police make massive cocaine haul

Remigio Civitarese
Agosto 1, 2020

PNG police commissioner David Manning addressed the media on Friday night saying the 750kg of cocaine was to be transported aboard a plane which crashed at Papa Lealea outside Port Moresby on Sunday. "The investigation into the location of the drugs continues in PNG, with the RPNGC working closely with the AFP as part of the ongoing global cooperation that has been a feature of this investigation", Police Commissioner David Manning said.

"The AFP alleges greed played a significant part in the syndicate's activities and can not rule out that the weight of the cocaine had an impact on the plane's ability to take off", the statement said.

"The aircraft flew at about 3000 feet from Mareeba to PNG, in an effort to avoid radar detection", Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

The failed operation allegedly involved five members of a Melbourne-based criminal syndicate with links to Italian organised crime, who have all now been charged.

The Australian pilot of the Cessna 402C light aircraft had been arrested and charged with illegally entering the country.

If convicted, all five men could face life in prison.

The Australian pilot presented himself to the Australian Consulate in Papua New Guinea after the crash.

Photos from inside the plane show several hidden compartments covered up with boards where the drugs could have been stowed.

On July 31, Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary located 500kg of cocaine that authorities believe was on the plane. The drugs are still being analysed and a number of men are speaking with local authorities. They include four from Victoria aged 31, 33 and 61, and a 36-year-old from Sydney.

These include three properties, shares, account funds and a vehicle.

Manning said the bust was part of a two-year investigation between the two forces and was a serious disruption to organised transnational crime.

'Australian law enforcement remains committed to working collectively to protect Australia, which is especially important now, due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the community'.

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