Police say a small airplane that crashed shortly after take-off in Papua New Guinea had been overloaded with cocaine destined for the Australian market.
Officers say the “greed” of the medicine gang performed a component of their downfall.
It’s believed the Cessna had been carrying greater than 500kg (1,100lb) of cocaine value A$80m ($57m; £44m) when it crashed on Monday.
5 males, all allegedly members of a Melbourne-based crime syndicate, have been arrested.
In an announcement, Australian police mentioned the gang had been underneath surveillance for 2 years. The sunshine airplane had taken off from Mareeba in North Queensland on Sunday and flew at a low altitude to keep away from radar detection earlier than touchdown at a distant airfield at Papa Lea Lea, north of Port Moresby.
Police say it was then loaded up with medicine for the return flight to Australia.
“The AFP (Australian Federal Police) alleges greed performed a major half within the syndicate’s actions and can’t rule out that the burden of the cocaine had an impression on the airplane’s capability to take off,” police said in a statement.
The wreck of the airplane was discovered deserted and empty a brief distance from the airfield. The medicine, in 28 baggage, along with an unspecified quantity of Australian forex had been later retrieved by Australian and Papua New Guinea police.
The pilot – an Australian – handed himself in to the Australian Consulate in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, police added. He was arrested and has been charged with an immigration offence.
Police mentioned the 5 males had hyperlinks to Italian organised crime and had been arrested in Queensland and Victoria shortly after the airplane took off for Papua New Guinea. If convicted, they face life imprisonment.
“These arrests show regardless of how refined or opportunistic organised crime’s makes an attempt are, or the strategies they use, legislation enforcement is preserving tempo and inflicting most harm to those legal ventures,” AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney mentioned.