Sunday 2 August 2020

Plane overloaded with cocaine crashed on take-off

A light plane heading for Australia has crashed because it was overloaded with more than 500 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated value of $80 million, according to police. The Cessna 402 aircraft came down shortly after taking off from Papa Lea Lea, a remote airstrip on the south coast of Papua New Guinea last Sunday. It was found abandoned and empty but officials recovered 28 bags of drugs weighing a total of 500kg at a different location on the island. Photos released by police showed recovered drug packages marked with ‘777’ and hiding spaces within a truck where the drugs were hidden.. Australian Federal Police (AFP) announced on Saturday they had charged five suspected drug traffickers with alleged links to Italian organised crime. They face life imprisonment if convicted. The pilot, also Australian, was arrested and charged with an immigration offence after handing himself into the embassy in Papua New Guinea. Officials described the attempt to smuggle the cocaine into Australia during the coronavirus pandemic as “brazen”. “With current interstate travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the attempt to import illicit drugs into Australia shows how opportunistic and greedy organised crime can be,” said AFP Deputy Commissioner Investigations Ian McCartney. “Australian law enforcement remains committed to working collectively to protect Australia, which is especially important now, due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the community.” Police said the Melbourne-based crime syndicate arranged a flight from Marreeba (MRG/YMBA) near Cairns in north Queensland to Papua New Guinea on the morning of the 26th July to collect the cocaine. It is alleged the light aircraft flew at an altitude of only 3000 feet in an effort to avoid radar detection. After picking up the drugs, it crashed while attempting to take off later that afternoon. “The AFP alleges greed played a significant part in the syndicate’s activities and cannot rule out that the weight of the cocaine had an impact on the planes ability to take off,” the police said in a statement.

Aircraft Information
Aircraft: Cessna C402C Utiliner
Registration: VH-TSI
Serial Number: 402C0492

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