MIL-OSI Australia: IRONSIDE: Alleged UK cocaine importation intercepted due to Ironside intelligence

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Source: Australian Federal Police

Editor’s note: Images

More than 2000 kilograms of cocaine has been seized and six people arrested in waters off the coast of the United Kingdom. Intelligence provided to UK authorities from an on-going Australian Federal Police Operation IRONSIDE investigation assisted in taking out this huge haul.

AFP investigators notified the UK’s National Crime Agency of a transnational criminal syndicate using encrypted communications to coordinate cocaine shipments using the marine vessel Kahu.

UK authorities intercepted the vessel approximately 80 nautical miles off the coast near Plymouth in a multi-agency operation which included AFP officers based in the UK.  The UK’s Border Force boarded and secured the vessel before returning the yacht to Plymouth for examination.

Five Nicaraguan nationals and one UK national who were on the vessel have been arrested in connection to the attempted importation and are currently being questioned.

The arrests are linked to the global joint law enforcement sting, AFP Operation IRONSIDE, working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Trojan Shield, which has led to the mass disruption of the criminal environment across Australia and around the world.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Northern Command, Lesa Gale said intelligence from Operation Ironside had enabled the AFP to assist international enforcement partners in disrupting an alleged sophisticated criminal network.

“Operation Ironside has opened the door to unprecedented collaboration across law enforcement agencies around the globe,” Assistant Commissioner Gale said.

“This result highlights the importance of the AFP’s partnership with the NCA to combat offshore transnational organised crime that impacts both of our countries.”

“The AFP and NCA have a strong, historic relationship and both agencies recognise the significant threat to national security posed by transnational organised crime.”

“The cost to the Australian economy is estimated at over $47 billion, but the broader social impacts are immeasurable.”

“This result should serve as the strongest warning to criminals yet – we will continue to be relentless in our pursuit to target and disrupt your illicit operations and to bring you to justice.”

NCA Deputy Director, Matt Horne said this is a massive haul of cocaine with an estimated street value of around £120m.

“There’s no doubt these drugs would have been sold on into communities across the UK fuelling more crime and misery.

“Organised crime groups are motivated by money. The deprivation of these drugs will smash a hole in the OCG’s plans and ability to operate.

“Also, the arrests of the men transporting the drugs means the crime group has lost trusted offenders who would have been key to their operation.

“We continue to work with partners at home such as Border Force and those abroad such as the AFP to protect the public from the Class A drugs threat.”

More information about the results of Operation IRONSIDE can be found here.

Note to media:

Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information.

  • For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
  • Access free 24/7 drug and alcohol counselling online at www.counsellingonline.org.au.
  • For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to www.turningpoint.org.au.
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