A British man has appeared in an Australian court over a £560 million drug haul discovered after a yacht ran aground on a tiny island off Western Australia.
The stricken vessel sparked a police hunt and when Graham Palmer, 34 and Frenchman Antoine Dicenta, 51, allegedly tried to flee a giant seal blocked their path.
Police launched a raid on Burton Island off the port city of Geraldton final week the place they discovered the pair allegedly with 1.087 tonnes of methylamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy.
The pressure mentioned the haul’s road worth was estimated at AUD$1 billion.
Police mentioned the medicine have been in dozens of luggage the duo had tried to cover beneath seaweed.
The pair have been charged final week with importing a business amount of a border managed drug and appeared in the Perth Magistrates Court on Thursday.
Another Briton, Scott Felix Jones, 35, and an American, Jason Dean Lassiter, 45, and Australian man Angus Bruce Jackson, 50, confronted Perth magistrates court charged with conspiring and trying to own the medicine with intent to promote or provide.
All 5 males have been refused bail and remanded in custody.
Chris Dawson, Western Australia’s police commissioner, mentioned it was alleged that Lassiter, Jones and Jackson have been “the shore party”.
“They were in another boat and they were ready to receive,” Dawson advised ABC radio. “We’ve disrupted a big international drug syndicate here.”
The drug bust unfolded after the yacht struck a reef about 4.three miles from Burton Island in the Abrolhos archipelago.
A police search was launched and two crayfisherman noticed somebody on the tiny island ducking down in a bid to cover in low scrub plane flew overhead, Geraldton volunteer marine rescue service vice commander mentioned.
When police arrived, Dicenta and Palmer made a run for his or her dinghy however have been thwarted by an enormous sleeping seal, Damien Healy advised the broadcaster.
“They woke it up and it jumped up with its massive chest out and bellowed at them.
“The guys mainly had the selection of going by means of the seal or getting arrested they usually ended up selecting getting arrested.”
Assistant Commissioner Brad Royce from the State Crime Command advised the ABC the size of the drug haul indicated a extremely subtle operation.
“The sheer size and nature of this seizure clearly indicates the involvement of an established criminal network,” he mentioned.