Drugs, guns and cash: Qld’s biggest busts in 2020

 

COVID-19 had a profoundly positive effect on Queensland's crime rates in 2020, but police say drug traffickers still found unique ways to peddle their product across the nation - even the globe.

The Courier-Mail today lists some of the state's biggest drug busts of 2020, including hauls worth well over $1 million.

1. ATHERTON/PAPUA NEW GUINEA, AUGUST 2020

 

When a plane crashed trying to take off from a makeshift runway in Papua New Guinea, authorities were quick to discover why.

Inside was 500kg of cocaine, with a street value of about $80 million.

While the incident took place about 30km away from Port Moresby, a two-year police operation claimed to link five Queenslanders to the crime.

Australian Federal Police allege it was the work of a Melbourne-based crime syndicate with links to the Calabrian mafia, Ndrangheta.

The plane had taken off from Mareeba the Sunday prior. Twenty-eight bags of cocaine were seized, while five men were arrested in Queensland.

2. BRISBANE/ENGLAND, MARCH 2020

An x-ray at Brisbane International Airport uncovered 450kg of MDMA inside an excavator, transported from the UK. Picture: Supplied.
An x-ray at Brisbane International Airport uncovered 450kg of MDMA inside an excavator, transported from the UK. Picture: Supplied.

A routine heavy machinery shipment into Brisbane became so much more, when X-raying at Brisbane International Airport uncovered 450kg of MDMA.

Australia Border Force officers were examining an excavator - transported from Southampton, England - when the haul was found inside the arm of the machine.

Officers allegedly removed 226 plastic bags of MDMA from the arm, believed to be worth about $79 million.

The excavator was allowed to be delivered to a Sydney address, while authorities pounced, arresting two London men, along with two men in NSW.

3. QUEENSLAND/VICTORIA, AUGUST 2020

Drugs uncovered from an alleged cross-border operation, from August 2020. Picture: Supplied.
Drugs uncovered from an alleged cross-border operation, from August 2020. Picture: Supplied.

A "cross-border" operation saw 424 cannabis plants and 195kg of marijuana, with a combined value of $2.3 million seized by police in August.

Five people were charged when a "national drug syndicate" was dismantled, after police spent months investigating what they called a "national organised crime group".

The group was allegedly pushing their product across Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia's borders.

The men were charged after simultaneous search warrants were executed at Inala, Oxley and Sumner in Queensland, and Cairnlea, St Albans and Hampton in Victoria.

4. INALA, NOVEMBER 2020

Hundreds of cannabis plants were discovered in industrial properties in Brisbane’s south and Logan. Picture: Supplied.
Hundreds of cannabis plants were discovered in industrial properties in Brisbane’s south and Logan. Picture: Supplied.

While the rest of us were using Netflix and home workouts to keep ourselves busy during the peak of COVID, police allege one group was up to something much more "elaborate".

Hundreds of cannabis plants had been growing across industrial properties in Brisbane south and Logan, which were eventually uncovered in November.

The value following the raids was $1.61 million, while 395 cannabis plants and 94kg of marijuana was seized.

The hydroponic systems alone were valued at $175,000 and another $100,000 in cash, along with two vehicles, was taken by police as part of the investigation.

5. YATALA, JULY 2020

An image from a massive $1 million drug bust at Yatala. Picture: QLD Police.
An image from a massive $1 million drug bust at Yatala. Picture: QLD Police.

A 59-year-old man was alleged to have amassed a warehouse with 369 cannabis plants worth almost a $1 million in July.

The incredible find was revealed by police, who said the collection was uncovered in the massive shed and the bushland out back.

It was found following a search along semirural Ferguson street by officers.

The total street value was $920,000.

6. REDCLIFFE, DECEMBER 2020

Detectives from North Brisbane Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) seized cocaine, large quantities of cannabis, $1.5 million in cash and weapons after intercepting an aircraft in Brisbane. Picture: Supplied.
Detectives from North Brisbane Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) seized cocaine, large quantities of cannabis, $1.5 million in cash and weapons after intercepting an aircraft in Brisbane. Picture: Supplied.

Police allegedly uncovered a huge haul of cash, guns and drugs when they intercepted a light plane that flew from Melbourne into Redcliffe Airport last month.

Detectives boarded the Piper Aerostar plane after it landed at the suburban airstrip, arresting three men and another 11 following subsequent raids.

They alleged the men were part of an interstate drugs syndicate that police have been investigating for 18 months.

A search of the plane found $1 million in cash and a stash of cannabis with a $3.5 million street value.

Search warrants were also carried out on houses and storage sheds across Brisbane's north where another $1.5 million in cash and a "substantial" amount of cannabis was discovered.

The raids were part of the long running Operation Mugwort, which has seen $8.5 million in cash, weapons, ammunition, cocaine and cannabis seized.

Originally published as Drugs, guns and cash: Qld's biggest busts in 2020



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