Serbian police arrest 3 Australians over $400M cocaine haul

A Serbian police car (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 January 2018
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Serbian police arrest 3 Australians over $400M cocaine haul

CANBERRA, Australia: Three Australians have been arrested in Serbia over the second-largest cocaine haul in Australian law enforcement history, police said on Thursday.
Serbian police alleged the men arrested in a Belgrade hotel foyer on Wednesday “are linked to” the discovery of 1.28 metric tons (1.41 US tons) of cocaine that were seized last April on a Chinese freighter docked in Sydney. The drug haul was worth 500 million Australian dollars ($400 million), police said.
Police said the arrests were made during a “money handover.” A Lebanese citizen was detained and charged with having forged identity documents.
The drug was concealed in pre-fabricated steel in more than 2,500 individual blocks and was the second largest cocaine seizure in Australia, Australian Federal Police and the Australian Border Force said in a statement.
“This was a sophisticated concealment, but thanks to our highly trained officers and world-class screening technology, we were able to locate the cocaine and ultimately disrupt a significant international drug operation,” Border Force Assistant Commissioner Tim Fitzgerald said.
The largest Australian haul of the illicit drug was 1.4 metric tons (1.5 US tons) found in February last year in a yacht that had allegedly smuggled it from the South Pacific. Six people were charged and face potential life prison sentences.
That larger haul was valued at over A$300 million because of its lower purity than the second-largest haul.
After the Serbian arrests, Australian police executed five search warrants in the national capital Canberra and three towns in New South Wales state. No arrests have been made in Australia, but investigations continue, police said.
Illicit drugs command relatively high prices in Australia, making it an attractive market for international drug networks despite its remoteness.


EU slaps sanctions on Syrians, Russians over attacks

Updated 21 January 2019
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EU slaps sanctions on Syrians, Russians over attacks

  • EU foreign ministers slapped travel bans and asset freezes on nine people and on Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center

BRUSSELS: The European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on four Russians blamed for a nerve agent attack in Britain as well as a Syrian research center and its staff as the 28-nation bloc stepped up its action against the use of chemical weapons.
EU foreign ministers slapped travel bans and asset freezes on nine people and on Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Center.
Five of those targeted are linked to the Syrian center’s activities. Britain’s foreign office said they “have played a central role in the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime against their own people.”
The four Russians on the list are the two men accused of planting the nerve agent in Salisbury last March, Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, and their superiors, the head and deputy head of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence unit.
The ministers said in a statement from their meeting in Brussels that the sanctions move “contributes to the EU’s efforts to counter the proliferation and use of chemical weapons, which poses a serious threat to international security.”
It’s the first time the EU has imposed sanctions to combat chemical weapons.
“Today’s new sanctions deliver on our vow to take tough action against the reckless and irresponsible activities of the Russian military intelligence organization, the GRU, which put innocent British citizens in serious danger in Salisbury last year,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said in a statement.
“We will continue to show our willingness to stand up for the international rules that keep us safe, and which the Kremlin and the Assad regime seek to undermine,” he added.