A Fijian national was arrested Friday, Aug. 17, over a 50kg cocaine haul.
A Fijian national was arrested Friday, Aug. 17, over a 50kg cocaine haul. Australian Border Force

A 29-year-old Fijian national has been arrested for allegedly trying to import 50 kilograms of cocaine. The drugs were said to be concealed in a shipment of bottled water.

The Australian Border Force officers deconstructed the consignment and discovered the cocaine when it arrived on Aug. 10 at its Sydney Container Examination Facility. They items were marked for testing after anomalies were identified when they were x-rayed.

The consignment was referred to the Australian Federal Police for further investigation. It is estimated that the drugs have a street value of $17.5 million.

On Wednesday, AFP officers executed a search warrant at Hurtsville, where they seized a number of electronic items and other materials relating to the importation of the products. On Friday, officers located and arrested the Fijian national.

The man will be accused of preparing the shipment for export from Fiji and travelling to Australia to collect it. He has been charged with one count of importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs.

The officers are still yet to identify any intended recipients in Australia.

“Unfortunately, we continue to see large quantities of drugs being sent to Australia and criminals use all sorts of concealment methods to try and beat our border processes,” ABF Regional Commander Danielle Yannopoulos said. “Using a mix of intelligence, officer skill and intuition, and our recently upgraded x-ray technology, we are more than capable of detecting these drugs long before they can make it into the Australian community.

“This is an example of how Australian law enforcement works to keep illicit drugs off our streets and out of our homes,” Commander Bruce Hill, AFP’s manager of Organised Crime, said. “We hope it sends a message that if you’re thinking of importing illicit drugs to Australia, it’s simply not worth the risk. We will catch you eventually.”