Four arrested after $10m cocaine bust

The alleged drug couriers concealed 30kg worth of cocaine in clothing items. Picture: AFP/Supplied.

Four people, including the suspected ringleader of a global drug mule syndicate, have been arrested after attempting to smuggle 30kg worth of cocaine into Australia.

Federal police arrested and charged three women at Melbourne Airport on April 12 after discovering approximately 10kg of cocaine stashed inside of six suitcases.

The illicit drugs, which have an estimated street value of $10 million, were found after border officials were notified by US authorities of the arrest of a fourth woman at Los Angeles Airport on April 11.

The women were arrested at Melbourne Airport. Picture: David Swift/NCA NewsWire.

The three women, aged 22, 24 and 35, were passengers travelling on board a flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne.

A 55-year-old man accused of running the drug mule operation was later arrested and charged by authorities after arriving into Melbourne Airport this week.

The man, who is a US national, has been charged with two counts relating to the import and possession of cocaine and faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The three women were each charged with one count of importing and possessing a commercial quantity of cocaine.

The man faced the Melbourne Magistrate Court on 17 April, and the women on April 13, where they were all remanded in custody.

AFP officers allegedly seized $10 million worth of cocaine. Picture: David Swift/NCA NewsWire.

They are all scheduled to reappear in court on August 5.

AFP Detective Superintendent Simone Butcher said drug couriers were driven by “money and greed” and said they would have gone to any lengths to import illicit substances into Australia.

“A dangerous amount of cocaine was stopped as a result of intelligence sharing between Australian and international law enforcement agencies,” detective superintendent Butcher said.

“This attempted importation of about 30kg of cocaine had an estimated street value of nearly $10 million if it had reached our streets.”