Eight men have been charged after a staggering 1.2 tonnes of meth was intercepted in WA – the biggest seizure in n history.
Police will allege the drugs – with a street value of $1.04 billion – were found on a boat and a vehicle in Geraldton in the state’s mid west in the early hours of Thursday morning.
The police operation was run by the Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF), who estimate the haul is the equivalent of 13 million hits of meth.
JOCTF involves the n Federal Police, WA Police, n Border Force, AUSTRAC and the n Criminal Intelligence Commission.
Police believe the drugs were destined for the eastern states.
More than 20 search warrants across the country have also been carried out as a result of the massive operation.
Police will allege a marine vessel, the Valkoista, arrived at the Port of Geraldton at around 2am on Thursday.
It will be alleged the drugs were then offloaded into a white hire van, shortly before 4am.
Heavily armed officers from the Tactical Response Group stopped the van as it reversed from the dock.
Police arrested a 33-year-old man from southern Sydney and two men from NSW, aged 38 and 52 with the van.
At the same time, officers stormed the Valkoista and arrested three crew members: A 45-year-old man from the NSW Central Coast and two South n men aged 48 and 44.
A total of 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine in bags was allegedly seized from the vehicle and vessel.
Police believe a mothership brought the massive haul of drugs towards the WA coastline, before being transported onto the Valkoista.
Search warrants have since been carried out at homes in Sydney, the NSW Central Coast and Adelaide.
Two other men from South , both aged 37, were arrested at a hotel in Hillarys, north of Perth, on Thursday as part of the operation.
It will be alleged they too were involved in the drug importation.
Those two men, along with the Valkoista crew, have been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.
The three men in the van have been charged with possessing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully imported.
The two men found at the hotel in Hillarys are due to face Perth Magistrates Court on Friday.
The other six are due to reappear in Perth Magistrates Court on January 17.
All eight are n nationals.
AFP Deputy Commissioner of Operations Leanne Close said the investigation into the syndicate members had been running for six months.
“The operation for the last six months has focussed on this significant organised crime group in ,” she said.
“The operation has required our officers to work around the clock in recent weeks on this matter.”
Deputy Commissioner Close confirmed a mothership initially had the drugs on board, before being transferred.
“We know that the drugs came through on a mothership, some miles off the n coastline,” she said.
“We are alleging the people who organised the importation, sent a group of people on a different vessel out to collect from the mothership.
“Certainly, it appears it (the drugs) were destined for the east coast.”
Deputy Commissioner Close said it will be alleged the eight men were “the organisers and facilitators” of the imported drugs.
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said: “This is the culmination of many months of very solid police work and intelligence work by this joint taskforce.”
“There is an ongoing operation clearly, but this particular element of it has resulted in what is a tremendous interruption of the supply chain.”