The two men allegedly involved in importing $61 million worth of drugs were identified after police seized nearly 250kg of cocaine hidden in the hull of a yacht.
Rachid Kachour, 55, and Matthieu Anthony Rees, 44, were arrested at their apartment in Griffith, Australian Capital Territory, on July 20 after police seized 247kg of cocaine from a yacht in Townsville.
Kachour and Rees were extradited to Brisbane over the weekend and failed to appear at Brisbane Magistrates Court when their case was briefly mentioned on Monday.
The couple, accused of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and dealing in the proceeds of a crime worth more than $100,000, did not request bail.
The men are alleged to have traveled from Canberra to Townsville in May to collect cocaine from inside the yacht’s hull.
The yacht (pictured) sailed from Vanuatu to Townsville in May and was restricted to port for 90 days after officials believed the ship posed a “threat”.
Australian Border Force officers searched the yacht while it was still in the water after it left Vanuatu in April.
Officials believe the yacht posed a “threat” and have restricted it to port for 90 days while they launch an investigation into the ship.
Once out of the water, Australian Border Force and Australian Federal Police officers discovered “minor anomalies” in the yacht’s hull and extracted 247kg of cocaine hidden in an enclosed space in the hull.
Police allege that one of the men threw a backpack containing $290,000 in cash in a vacuum-sealed bag from the apartment’s balcony when officers knocked on the front door and announced they had a search warrant.
Investigators will allege that the cash is the proceeds of crime.
AFP Detective Superintendent Adrian Telfer said the cocaine trade fuels organized crime and turns the Pacific into an “illicit drug superhighway.”
“Every time someone buys cocaine, they are lining the pockets of organized crime gangs who are responsible for violence here in Australia and around the world,” Superintendent Telfer said.
‘This amount of cocaine has an estimated street value of $61,750,000. That’s the money criminal groups would use to buy weapons, corrupt foreign officials and governments and turn the Pacific into an illicit drug superhighway.’
“The AFP and our partners… are working to prevent drugs, such as cocaine, from reaching our shores because illicit drugs contribute to toll roads, child abandonment and domestic violence.”
Australian Border Force and Australian Federal Police officers discovered cocaine hidden in an enclosed space in the hull (pictured)
Police seized 247kg of cocaine (pictured) and arrested two men from Griffith, Australian Capital Territory, for allegedly importing the border-controlled drug.
An investigation into the seized drugs is underway, and police are not ruling out future arrests.
ABF Commander James Copeman said the raid is another example of Australian law enforcement agencies working together to protect the community.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a container loaded with heroin, an envelope full of methamphetamine or a sailboat full of cocaine, our officers have the skills, technology and inquisitive mindset to spot it,” Copeman said.
Queensland Police Service Chief Superintendent Craig Morrow said disrupting and deterring the illegal drug trade in Australia is a top priority.
“Targeting the illegal drug trade by disrupting supply and distribution networks is a priority for all law enforcement agencies,” Superintendent Morrow said.
“The goal is to prevent them from entering our community and causing untold harm to individuals and families.”
Rachid Kachour, 55, and Matthieu Anthony Rees, 44, were arrested at their Griffith apartment and extradited to Brisbane to appear in court. (in the photo, one of the men, center, arrested)
Both Kachour and Rees face a maximum sentence of life in prison for the alleged crimes.
Kachour is charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, smuggling the proceeds of crime (money or property worth $100,000 or more), and failing to comply with an order.
Rees is charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and smuggling the proceeds of crime: money or property worth $100,000 or more.
The couple remained in custody, with Kachour’s case adjourned until Tuesday while he sought legal advice and Rees was due to face court on September 1.