Police say a small airplane that crashed shortly after take-off in Papua New Guinea had been overloaded with cocaine destined for the Australian market.
Officers say the “greed” of the medication gang performed a component of their downfall.
It is believed the Cessna had been carrying greater than 500kg (1,100lb) of cocaine value A$80m ($57m; £44m) when it crashed on Monday.
Five males, all allegedly members of a Melbourne-based crime syndicate, have been arrested.
In a press release, Australian police stated the gang had been beneath surveillance for 2 years. The mild airplane had taken off from Mareeba in North Queensland on Sunday and flew at a low altitude to keep away from radar detection earlier than touchdown at a distant airfield at Papa Lea Lea, north of Port Moresby.
Police say it was then loaded up with medication for the return flight to Australia.
“The AFP (Australian Federal Police) alleges greed performed a major half within the syndicate’s actions and can’t rule out that the load of the cocaine had an influence on the airplane’s capacity to take off,” police said in a statement.
The wreck of the airplane was discovered deserted and empty a brief distance from the airfield. The medication, in 28 luggage, along with an unspecified quantity of Australian foreign money had been later retrieved by Australian and Papua New Guinea police.
The pilot – an Australian – handed himself in to the Australian Consulate in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday, police added. He was arrested and has been charged with an immigration offence.
Police stated the 5 males had hyperlinks to Italian organised crime and had been arrested in Queensland and Victoria shortly after the airplane took off for Papua New Guinea. If convicted, they face life imprisonment.
“These arrests show irrespective of how subtle or opportunistic organised crime’s makes an attempt are, or the strategies they use, regulation enforcement is retaining tempo and inflicting most injury to those legal ventures,” AFP Deputy Commissioner Ian McCartney stated.