Australia seizes large haul of cocaine, arrests 4

AP News
Posted: Nov 14, 2011 4:14 AM
Australia seizes large haul of cocaine, arrests 4

Police arrested four Spaniards in one of Australia's largest cocaine seizures, authorities said Monday.

About 660 pounds (300 kilograms) of the illegal drug were seized from a yacht on Friday at the northeastern coastal town of Bundaberg, Australian Federal Police said in a statement. Police said the yacht was crewed by Ivan Maria Ramos Valea, 35, and Julia Maria Boada Fernandez, 37, who were both arrested.

They said two other Spanish citizens _ Miguel Angel Sanchez Barrocal, 38, and Jose Herrero-Calvo, 39 _ were also arrested in Bundaberg, where they were alleged to be collecting the cocaine.

Police said they also seized more than 3 million Australian dollars ($3.1 million) in cash using search warrants in Bundaberg, Gold Coast and Sydney.

The four Spanish nationals, whose hometowns in Spain were not released, appeared in a Bundaberg court Monday charged with importing cocaine. Each faces up to life imprisonment if convicted.

They were remanded in custody to appear in court next on Jan. 12, when they are to enter pleas. Police said the haul was the fifth-largest cocaine seizure in Australian history. The drug was valued at up to $80 million.