Police have seized 384 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of $144 million finding it in the hydraulic boom in the arm of an excavator, in the largest ever drug interception operation coordinated by ACT Policing.
The drugs arrived into Australia in a second-hand 20-tonne Caterpillar excavator, shipped out of South Africa and into the Port Botany container terminal. Border Force officers were suspicious about the origins of the heavy equipment. The excavator was x-rayed at the Sydney Container Examination Facility and anomalies were identified. Border Force and Australian Federal Police officers cut into the arm of the excavator where they found 384 packages of cocaine, each weighing a kilogram.Two Karabar men, Timothy John Engstrom, 34, and Adam Phillip Hunter, 35, both of Queanbeyan, were arrested at their business premises in Bungendore on Sunday (14 July).
The excavator X-rayed, with cocaine inside
The two men are expected to face high-level drug trafficking charges, which potentially carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It is suspected that the target market for the cocaine was Canberra, the South Coast and the Snowy Mountains region. The joint operation commenced with partners from ACT Police, NSW Police, the Australian Federal Police National Anti-Gangs Squad, Australian Border Force and other partners earlier this year.