WA Resident Jailed For Cocaine Mail Import

A man from the Republic of Ghana has been sentenced to more than five years’ imprisonment in Western Australia for his role in the importation of about 784g of cocaine embedded in clothing.

The man, 26, was sentenced by the Perth District Court on Tuesday (9 April, 2024), after previously pleading guilty to one count of attempting to possess a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug.

A joint agency investigation began in February 2022 after Australian Border Force (ABF) examined a package of ponchos and bikinis sent from South America through air cargo. The contents were as described, but ABF officers, alert to this type of concealment, assessed the clothes to see if they had been embedded with illicit drugs.

Officers detected a white powdery substance among the fibres of the clothing that subsequently tested positive for cocaine and the matter was referred to the AFP.

The AFP substituted the clothing to remove the illicit drugs before the package was delivered to a home in the suburb of Scarborough on 4 March, 2022.

The man, then 24, accepted delivery of the package and claimed it was intended for his friend.

When the AFP and ABF executed a search warrant at the residence later that day, the man told police he did not know who the package was for and had left it in the hallway of the share house.

However, police found messages on his mobile phone about the delivery of the package and the man was arrested and charged.

He has been sentenced to five years and six months’ imprisonment and ordered to serve a non-parole period of three years and three months. He has been in custody since his arrest, so the sentence was backdated to 4 March, 2022.

AFP Detective acting Superintendent John Whitehead said the AFP worked closely with international and domestic partners, including ABF, to identify and disrupt the illicit drug trade.

“Criminals will use a variety of methods to try to smuggle cocaine and other illicit drugs into Australia because Australians are willing to pay high prices and the criminals do not care about the harm they cause,” Det a/Supt Whitehead said.

“Illicit drug use not only affects users and their families, it fuels associated crime, road crashes, places a significant burden on the health system and negatively impacts the economy. 

“Across Australia in 2021-22, there were more than 1300 cocaine-related hospitalisations – more than three a day on average.*

“We will continue to make Australia a hostile environment for criminals both onshore and offshore.”

ABF Superintendent James Payne said ABF officers were the first line of defence at the border and were detecting and seizing cocaine at record levels.

“Criminals continue to target Australia due to its high demand, creating a marketable profit, but regardless of the creative ways they think they can conceal these illicit drugs, we have seen them all and we will take decisive action when they are found,” Superintendent Payne said.

“This sentencing outcome is testament to the close cooperation with our law enforcement partners working together to disrupt anyone attempting to profit from the harmful illicit drug market.”

*Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report

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