The extradition of a 43-year-old New South Wales man from Serbia to face charges relating to a $500 million cocaine importation is a significant blow to organised crime operating globally and seeking to exploit Australia.
The man was detained in Serbia on 16 January 2018 by local authorities and was extradited from Belgrade, arriving into Sydney this morning.
He will face Sydney Central Local Court today for his alleged role in an organised crime syndicate believed to be responsible for importing the cocaine.
Operation Amorgos is an Australian Federal Police-led investigation, also involving the expertise of the Australian Border Force, which began in April 2017 to target the organised crime syndicate allegedly responsible for importing 1.28 tonnes of cocaine concealed within pre-fabricated steel.
It will be alleged in court that the man used links he had to overseas businesses to facilitate the importation of the cocaine in a shipment of steel, in a manner that attempted to evade law enforcement detection.
The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said targeting the main facilitators of drug importations is an effective way of impacting the profits that organised crime seeks to make through this activity.
"Our agencies understand that to make the largest impact on organised crime you have to target organisers and facilitators. The man extradited today is someone that police will allege had the contacts and experience to facilitate this large shipment into Australia," Mr Dutton said.
"This Government is committed to giving our law enforcement agencies the resources and support it needs to stop this insidious business preying on Australians."
The Minister for Law Enforcement Angus Taylor praised the work of all the agencies involved in this operation.
"Bringing this man before an Australian court is a fantastic result for the diligence and hard work of the AFP and the ABF and demonstrates the critical importance of enduring relationships with overseas law enforcement agencies," Mr Taylor said.
"This extradition has been crucially important in protecting our local communities from the scourge of drugs.
"We need to acknowledge the cooperation of Serbian authorities in this successful extradition, which sends the message to organised crime that the reach of law enforcement continues to grow internationally."
The extradition process has involved the extensive work of the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.
Further liaison with Serbian authorities is still ongoing. While these processes take place, there is no further detail to provide about the status of two further Australian men currently in Serbia.