Two accused of importing $61 million cocaine by sea

Police allege two Canberra men tried to import almost 250kg of cocaine into Queensland.

Police allege two Canberra men tried to import almost 250kg of cocaine into Queensland. Photo: AAP

Two men accused of importing cocaine worth more than $61 million into Queensland by sea will remain in custody.

Matthieu Anthony Rees, 44, and Rachid Kachour, 55, both from Griffith in the ACT, were arrested at their Canberra apartment on Thursday as part of an investigation into a quarter-tonne of cocaine seized from a yacht moored in Townsville.

Police say one of the men threw a backpack containing $290,000 cash in a vacuum-sealed bag from the apartment balcony when the officers knocked on the front door.

Australian Federal Police alleged the cash was the proceeds of crime and both men travelled to Townsville from Canberra between May 20-27 to recover cocaine hidden inside the vessel’s hull while it was at the Townsville Yacht Club and Marina. 

Rees and Kachour appeared in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday before being extradited to Queensland, where they appeared before Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.

Both men, whose occupations were listed in court documents as pastry chefs, were charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug and dealing in the proceeds of crime worth $100,000 or more.

Commonwealth prosecutor Brianna Finnegan said a partial brief of evidence might be disclosed to the defendants during the next six weeks.

The AFP alleges the yacht containing cocaine arrived in Townsville in April after sailing from Vanuatu.

Australian Border Force and AFP officers impounded the vessel after an initial search.

Officers found minor anomalies with the hull after taking the yacht out of the water and allegedly discovered 247 kilograms of cocaine hidden in enclosed sections.

The AFP and ABF worked with Queensland Police during the investigation.

AFP Detective Superintendent Adrian Telfer said the cocaine had an estimated street value of more than $61 million.

He said the yacht was a significant seizure and the men were allegedly part of a “quite organised” criminal network.

Investigations continued and further arrests were possible as authorities worked to determine the drugs’ intended destination, Superintendent Telfer said.


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