Racing identity charged in cocaine ring sting
High-profile Australian racehorse owner Damion Flower has been charged over his alleged role in smuggling cocaine on commercial flights from South Africa.
The 47-year-old is one of three people arrested after authorities uncovered the alleged drug trafficking ring operating at Sydney Airport.
Flower and a 50-year-old airport worker were nabbed on Wednesday afternoon as part of the long-running investigation by NSW Police, Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force and the federal Department of Home Affairs.
They allege the airport employee was using his airside access to import cocaine through the baggage holds of commercial flights.
Flower was allegedly one of two men police claim received the bags removed from the aircraft.
Both have been charged with six counts of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
It followed the arrest of a 42-year-old man near Sydney Airport on April 15.
AFP officers allegedly found a black duffel bag containing vacuum-sealed packages wrapped in black and silver paper in his vehicle, believed to be 27kg of cocaine.
He was arrested and charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
During the arrest of the 50-year-old airport worker from Oran Park on Wednesday, police allegedly found him in possession of a bag containing about 28kg of a substance believed to be cocaine.
Flower was later arrested outside his Moorebank home "for his alleged role in receiving imports of illegal drugs from the Oran Park man", authorities said in a joint statement on Thursday.
Police also raided six properties in Oran Park, Hoxton Park, Moorebank and Revesby.
About $8 million in cash was found at the Hoxton Park address, linked to the Oran Park man.
"This has been a complex, multi-layered investigation, driven by the skills and expertise of intelligence analysts who were able to identify this offending to allow authorities to act," AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Brad Edgtton said in a statement.
Border Force acting regional commander in NSW, Garry Low, said the men used their "intimate knowledge" of the aviation environment to carry out the smuggling operation.
"But (they) still weren't able to avoid our detention," he said in a statement.
Flower is due to face Liverpool Local Court on Thursday, while the 50-year-old is expected to go before Central Local Court.
The 42-year-old man is scheduled to appear at Central Local Court on June 12.
Flower is an outright or part-owner of 50 horses, including one of Australia's most in-demand stallions Snitzel.
He also holds a starting position in the $13 million The Everest, the richest turf race in the world.