ICE assists in the seizure of $248 million worth of cocaine hidden in banana pulp
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SYNDEY — U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Canberra provided the Australian Border Force (ABF) with information that resulted in the seizure of 552 kilograms of cocaine worth an estimated $248 million. The operation leading to the seizure began in September 2020 following information from HSI on a suspected shipment containing drugs destined for Australia.
HSI Canberra provided Australian authorities with details on the possibility of narcotics smuggled into Australia concealed as bananas from Brazil. The container was identified and inspected by the ABF on Sept. 21 and held for further investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). ABF officers identified anomalies within the approximately 275 boxes in the shipment that contained banana pulp, and upon closer examination, ultimately discovered cocaine hidden within the banana pulp bags.
“This joint investigation demonstrates the importance of strong international partnerships when it comes to dismantling transnational criminal organizations,” said ICE Canberra Attaché Adam Parks. “By working together, we were able to swiftly gather crucial information on the smuggling of cocaine through a shipment of fruit to Australia. I commend HSI Brazil and our Australian partners their professionalism, devotion, and unrelenting efforts on targeting organizations and individuals involved in these major transnational crimes.”
In the two weeks following the detection, HSI Canberra, the AFP, the ABF, and the New South Wales Police Force monitored the narcotics and conducted additional investigative steps in furtherance of the case. The joint investigation led to the execution of search warrants on Oct 16, when officers seized mobile phones, a laptop, a case of green stones suspected to be emeralds, and five one-kilogram silver ingots. The investigation also resulted in the arrest of a…