The Australian Federal Police searched the property, allegedly seizing 174kg of ketamine, which has an estimated wholesale value of $6.9 million.
AFP officers arrested three members of an alleged Victorian-based crime syndicate in Lara, as part of the AFP’s Transnational Serious and Organised Crime investigation.
Two men, a 37-year-old from Altona and a 33-year-old Sunshine North man are accused of coordinating and facilitating an 80kg ketamine import, along with a 32-year-old man from Hoppers Crossing, who is accused of attempting to take possession of the illicit drugs.
The drugs were believed to have been hidden inside 40 buckets of liquid cement sent from Spain to Australia.
The AFP’s investigation began in late May after receiving information from police in Spain about a suspicious consignment sent to Australia via sea cargo.
The shipment arrived in Australia late last month, where officers tracked it delivered to a property near Bacchus Marsh on Tuesday, where it was then believed to have been collected by the Sunshine North man to a large rural property in Lara.
The AFP, with assistance from Victoria Police arrested the group and executed a search warrant at the Lara property, seizing multiple opened buckets of cement and other material, mobile phones and additional evidence relating to the importation.
Police also say they located a further 80kg of suspected ketamine buried in the ground at the Lara address.
“Ketamine is a dangerous and illicit sedative. Its dissociative effects block sensory brain signals and can cause memory loss, feelings of being detached from one’s body and prevent their ability to perceive danger,” AFP Detective Superintendent Transnational Serious and Organised Crime Anthony Hall said.
“Unfortunately, in Australia, an average of 40 people are admitted to hospitals every week as a result of experiencing the harm caused by drug use,” Detective-Superintendent Hall said.
“This total seizure of about 174kg of ketamine and 25kg of MDMA means significant harm to the community had been prevented, thanks to the work of the police officers in Australia and those offshore who have collaborated with AFP through the AFP’s international network.
“Operation Woodgate originated from intelligence shared by the Spanish Guardia Civil with AFP International Command via AFP London Post.
“This highlights the strength in our agency’s international law enforcement partnerships and is one example of our commitment to aggressively creating a hostile environment for transnational serious and organised crime syndicates to operate, no matter where it is in the world.”
Images: Australian Federal Police