Police allege the Sydney man had helped import more than 20kg of cocaine into Australia, worth at least $6m to the streets.
A man from Sydney’s eastern suburbs has been charged with attempting to smuggle cocaine alongside missing restaurateur Mostafa Baluch.
The 34-year-old, from Rose Bay, was due to front Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday, charged with four counts of importing cocaine through air cargo consignments.
The arrest, part of Operation Ironside, came after Australian Federal Police launched an investigation in early 2020, when three separate consignments containing four, nine and 14 kilograms of cocaine respectively were seized.
Police allege the Rose Bay man was not only part of the syndicate responsible for importing the drugs, but also that he told other members he “had access to” an Australian Border Force member who could provide information on the status of the consignments.
In a statement, AFP said they would allege the man had been “accessing publicly-available parcel-tracking websites to determine the status of the consignments” and had been reporting his findings to other syndicate members.
Police will allege the man used a phone under a false name to track 62 consignments, six of which were found to contain border-controlled drugs.
“The six consignments were found to contain 14 kilograms of cocaine, 8.2 kilograms of heroin, and 4.6 kilograms of methampethamine,” the AFP said in a statement.
In a search warrant at the man’s house on Friday, police seized three encrypted devices.
The arrest comes as his alleged co-conspirator, Baluch, remains on the run after his court-ordered ankle bracelet was removed on Monday.
Baluch was charged over the alleged cocaine imports and was arrested in June. He was conditionally granted bail with a $4m surety last week.
In the wake of his disappearance, NSW Commissioner Mick Fuller said releasing Baluch on bail had been the wrong decision.
“I’ve been reluctant to criticise magistrates and judges because they have a tough job, but clearly he got this one wrong,” he said.
Baluch is accused of being the financier behind a 900kg shipment of cocaine into Australia, worth an estimated $270m on the streets.
NSW Police have urged anyone who sees Baluch, or has information about his whereabouts, to contact them immediately.