Police allegedly found a quarter of a billion dollars worth of cocaine hidden inside boxes of frozen fruit from Brazil.
The 552kg haul was concealed inside around 2,000 boxes of banana pulp which was intercepted by authorities at Sydney airport.
Border Force officials removed the drugs from the shipment before sending it on to its destination as part of a covert operation with New South Wales police.
Police allegedly found a quarter of a million dollars worth of cocaine hidden inside boxes of frozen fruit from Brazil (pictured)
They then watched to see who came to collect the delivery from a storage unit in south-west Sydney.
Police say they witnessed a 68-year-old man visit the facility where he allegedly searched through the boxes looking for the drugs.
He was arrested at a home in Forestville, in Sydney’s north on Friday after police executed a search warrant at his home.
Officials scraped off the banana pulp (pictured) and allegedly uncovered a quarter of a billion dollars worth of cocaine
Specialist police conduct forensic testing after executing a search warrant at a man’s home
A team of officers and sniffer dogs attended the home and banged on the door before leading him away in handcuffs.
Officers seized mobile phones, a laptop, plastic bags of banana pulp, a box, a case of green stones suspected to be emeralds, and five one-kilogram silver ingots.
The man is facing life in prison after being charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of drugs and attempting to possesses a commercial quantity of drugs.
The 552kg haul was concealed inside around 2,000 boxes of banana pulp which was intercepted by authorities at Sydney airport
Officers and sniffer dogs attended the home and banged the door before leading him away in handcuffs
AFP Detective Superintendent Geoffrey Turner said COVID-19 border restrictions have not prevented criminal groups from trying to import drugs into Australia.
‘Organised crime groups and their associates are taking bigger risks and looking to move more illicit goods in bulk as a result of global lockdowns,’ Detective Superintendent Turner said.
‘They think that choosing everyday items such as fruit would be innocuous enough to thwart law enforcement detection.’
‘To people who think cocaine may be harmless and part of the party scene – remember this: it is a powerful, addictive stimulant, that makes its way to Australia through a chain of violence and exploitation, and every time you use it only fuels this destruction, and line the pockets of organised crime.’
The man is facing life in prison after being arrested and charged at a home in Sydney’s north
Officials allegedly uncovered a case of green stones suspected to be emeralds at the man’s home
ABF Superintendent Regional Investigations NSW, Garry Low said the seizure is a warning anyone who tries to import drugs will be caught.
‘My message to anyone thinking of engaging in this type of activity, is to reconsider. Our wide range of detection methodologies can pick up a concealment however well-hidden criminals believe it is – and inside frozen fruit is no exception,’ he said.
The man has been remanded in custody after appearing in Sydney Central Local Court on Friday.
He will return court in December.