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350kg of cocaine and meth hidden in Chinese road roller

AUSTRALIAN Federal Police have seized 350kg of cocaine and methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $237 million following a complex investigation lasting more than two years.

The drugs - comprising 235kg of methamphetamine worth $174 million and 115kg of cocaine worth $63 million - were found hidden inside a 20-tonne road roller from China.

Two men have been charged over the seizure.

The AFP will allege a 34-year-old Canadian national was the financier of the operation. He was charged with importing the drugs and was refused bail when he fronted Sydney Central Local Court on Monday.

A 33-year-old US national was arrested in Leichhardt on Tuesday and appeared in Central Local Court on Wednesday.

The AFP's national manager for serious and organised crime David Sharpe could not rule out further arrests.

On September 21 the AFP identified a shipping container, carrying a 20-tonne road roller, that arrived at Port Botany from China.

Police executed five search warrants over the weekend at premises in the Sydney suburbs of Warriewood, Randwick, Terrey Hills, North Narrabeen and Avalon.

The road roller, dismantling equipment and 13 sports bags containing the drugs were found inside a storage unit at Warriewood.

Police also seized $150,000 in cash during a raid on a Sydney home.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Sharpe said the seizures were the culmination of an investigation that began in May 2010.

Codenamed Operation Pendine, the investigation targeted an international organised crime syndicate and stemmed from intelligence gathered from within Australian.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Sharpe said the AFP's global reach was increasing "on a daily basis", pointing to the fact more than 2.3 tonnes of illicit substances had been seized in the past five months.

"This operation has stopped a significant amount of harmful drugs from entering the community," Acting Assistant Commissioner Sharpe said.

"This seizure sends a clear message to criminals that no matter how long it takes, how complex or innovative the concealment method, global law enforcement is joining forces to stop the importation of illicit drugs into Australia.

"Criminal syndicates targeting Australia should be looking over their shoulders every day."

The seizure came less than a week after the AFP revealed the seizure of more than 200kg of cocaine found inside a yacht that ran aground on Tonga.

Topics:  cocaine drug bust meth


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