An alleged plot by crime syndicates in at least three countries to import 300kg of South American cocaine into Australia has been thwarted.
Two men have been charged with serious drug offences after raids in Sydney over the plot, while a 34-year-old woman was also charged after a raid at Logan, south of Brisbane.
The drugs, estimated to have a street value of $105 million, were to be imported from Peru via Singapore and Papua New Guinea, Australian Federal Police believe.
The cocaine was to travel via small craft to the Australian mainland through the Torres Strait.
The two Australian men, aged 57 and 63, are facing allegations of conspiring to import a commercial quantity of drugs after raids at inner-Sydney suburbs Rozelle and Maroubra on Thursday.
The offences carry a maximum life imprisonment, with the men to be extradited to Queensland from NSW on Friday.
“We will allege in court they were key organisers of a criminal syndicate intending to import drugs into Australia,” the AFP’s state manager Queensland Commander Sharon Cowden told reporters.
The woman, Dulcie Wagambio, from Woodridge, was charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime and appeared at Brisbane Magistrates Court where she received bail and was told to reappear on July 27.
A fourth raid was conducted at Airlie Beach in north Queensland.
The AFP says it got wind of Australian and PNG-based syndicates attempting to plan a drug importation in a container on a cargo ship from Peru in late 2017.
But when the container arrived in PNG, it did not contain the drugs.
“The cocaine wasn’t where it should have been, to the syndicate’s dismay,” Cmdr Cowden said.
“It appeared … that it was actually some sort of rip-off internally.”
The Australian syndicate liaised with Peruvians to arrange a second importation, the AFP alleges, which led to Friday’s charges.
The Peruvian syndicate involved in the alleged import plot was also dismantled by the country’s authorities, with more than a tonne of cocaine seized.
A Peruvian businessman who consulted with the Australian-based syndicate was arrested.
Search warrants are set to continue in Papua New Guinea.
An Australian Border Force spokesman said it was uncommon for illicit drug importers to target the Torres Strait as a passage to reaching the mainland.