Major haul: NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin with a quarter of the drugs seized in the operation. Photo: Fairfax Australia
Two men have been arrested after Australian police found cocaine worth 4.8 million U.S. dollars in Spanish floor tiles, it was revealed on Monday.
New South Wales (NSW) Police believed that the arrests of Ahmad El Hage, 35, and Zachary Chie, 31, on Friday have smashed a major cocaine syndicate.
The arrests of the two men follow a month-long investigation prompted by the discovery of 20 kg of cocaine in tiles shipped from Spain to Australia in October.
El Hage and Chie have been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled substance, and the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
"Over the past 12 months, investigators from various squads of State Crime Command -- with the help of other law enforcement partners -- have seized tonnes of cocaine destined for the streets of NSW, but organized criminal groups continue to be motivated by an unwavering demand," Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke told News Limited on Friday.
"NSW has almost doubled the consumption of cocaine compared to the next highest state in terms of doses consumed per day -- and this is the most important issue to be addressed."
"Organized crime is about money, and while ever there is a demand for drugs, there will be criminal networks willing to exploit that demand for profit."
During a search of Chie's vehicle following his arrest, police found 95,000 U.S. dollars in cash as well as 60 grams of cocaine and illegal firearms.
Both men faced court on Saturday where they were denied bail.