'Cruising' sailors hopes of $80m drug import dashed

The perfect cover - they thought. Port2Port Rally participants
.. .
It was the perfect cover - they thought. The Spanish 'cruising' sailors arrived under cover of the highly respected and well patronised Port2Port Cruising Rally which occurs every November from Vanuatu in the south Pacific to Bundaberg on the east coast of Australia at the end of the cruising season.

They didn't know that they had been under surveillance for months by the Australian Federal Police and their high hopes of getting almost $80 million worth of drugs into Queensland undetected were about to be dashed.


Three of the four Spanish nationals charged with importing 300 kilograms cocaine on a yacht into the Bundaberg Port in southern Queensland appeared in court this week.

Miguel Angel Sanchez Barrocal, 39, Jose Herrero Calvo, 38, Julia Maria Boada Fernandez, 37, and Ivan Maria Ramos Valea, 35, were arrested last November, found with the drug hidden inside the yacht docked at the Bundaberg Port, and the four remain in custody.

There were also raids on properties in Bundaberg, Sydney and the Gold Coast. Each of the accused is charged with importing quantities of border-controlled drugs.

Police were jubilant, as the seizure has been described as the fifth largest in Australian history.

If found guilty, the group faces life imprisonment. They may look back on that cruise across the Pacific with a little regret.