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Alleged Mexican drug couriers face Melbourne -

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Alleged Mexican drug couriers face Melbourne court

Broadcast: 02/12/2008

Transcript

LEIGH SALES: Three Mexican nationals appeared in a Melbourne court today charged with attempting to
smuggle nearly 65 kilograms of cocaine into Australia.

Customs and federal police say they worked closely with agencies in the United States to disrupt a
transnational drug syndicate.

Emma O'Sullivan reports.

EMMA O'SULLIVAN: Police estimate the 65 kilograms would have fetched $16 million on the streets.

TIM MORRIS, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE: We believe that the cocaine originated in South America and
has to transit through the United States en route to Australia.

EMMA O'SULLIVAN: In October, US customs discovered the cocaine inside a shipping container full of
ceramic pots and statues. The drugs were concealed inside large concrete cylinders.

US and Australian authorities worked together to track the cargo's progress from Los Angeles to
Melbourne.

ERIK CORTES, US CUSTOMS: I mean, I'm nothing but completely impressed with the cooperation and
their ability in the investigation.

EMMA O'SULLIVAN: On Friday, Federal Police arrested three Mexican nationals who allegedly tried to
access the container.

Oliva Barajas Gloria, Juan Suraz Lopez and Carlos Angulo Ruiz faced the Melbourne's magistrate's
court today. They were remanded in custody to face court again in April.

Police say Australia is a lucrative market for international drugs syndicates. Here, a kilogram of
cocaine sells for between $120,000 to $180,000.

TIM MORRIS: As long as Australians are prepared to pay such high prices by global standards for
their recreational drugs, we're going to continue to see global drug syndicates target the
Australian markets with importations such as this.

EMMA O'SULLIVAN: Police say they're now investigating local links to the drug syndicate.

Emma O'Sullivan, Lateline.