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Foreign nationals charged over ferrying tonne of drugs into Australia

GERALDTON, Australia: Two foreign nationals to face court for smuggling over a tonne of cocaine and ecstasy into Western Australia as their yacht hit a reef and ran aground at the Abrolhos Islands off the Mid-West coast.

Police said drugs exceeding 1,000 kilogrammes were found in 40 bags concealed by sea weed.

The stash is worth approximately $1 billion in street value.

A 51-year-old French national and a 34-year-old English man were allegedly sailing on the yacht when it ran aground on Monday in the Houtman Abrolhos off Geraldton.

Sea and air search led to the discovery of the smugglers found hiding on nearby Burton Island, after ferrying the drugs onto another vessel.

“We estimate it is in excess of one tonne and does include cocaine, MDMA or ecstasy, and we also believe there’s methylamphetamine,” Commissioner of Western Australia Police Chris Dawson revealed.

He said the investigation has just started and includes WA Police and the Australian Federal Police along with other agencies, including the US Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Crime Agency of Britain.

Commissioner Dawson said when the yacht, named “Zero”, was discovered on a reef, it initially sparked a rescue operation.

“We spotted a couple of men on a nearby island with a small tender. When those persons were under observation, they tried to conceal both the drugs and themselves and then it escalated, of course, into an investigation,” he added.

The Commissioner said community members at the Abrolhos Islands alerted the police when the yacht was spotted.

“I have got to commend the members of the community… they were of great assistance to police,” he remarked.

The French and British nationals made a brief appearance in Geraldton Magistrates Court this morning.

Accused, Antoine Dicenta and Graham Kurt Palmer, were charged with one count of importing commercial quantity of a border controlled drug by Geraldton court.

They were both remanded in custody and will appear in court in Perth on September 20.

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