Cocaine bust worth $1 billion
Police said they found cocaine worth an estimated $1 billion in a Sydney unit. Image by HANDOUT/NSW POLICE
  • crime, law and justice

Foiled kidnapping results in historic onshore drug bust

Maeve Bannister December 19, 2023

One of the largest onshore drug busts in NSW history has resulted from a foiled kidnapping plot and a bit of luck on the side of investigators.

Officers discovered more than 700kg of cocaine worth an estimated $1 billion after responding to reports of a robbery at an apartment block in Ryde, in Sydney’s northwest. 

After another resident reported a break-in at the block’s underground carpark, police found four men, aged 24, 23, 20 and 19, sitting in a Toyota Yaris wearing all-black clothing and face coverings.

Sydney unit cocaine haul
 Police said they found the cocaine packaged in large bags in the Sydney apartment. Image by HANDOUT/NSW POLICE 

During a search of the car, officers said they found a crowbar, gloves, a meat cleaver, knife, box cutter, flashing light bars and zip ties, all tools consistent with a kidnapping attempt. 

The men were charged with five offences each, including being armed with intent to commit an indictable offence and participating in a criminal group.

Police identified the intended victim of the foiled kidnapping and spoke to him at the apartment, where he initially appeared “friendly and helpful”.

But later that night, when investigators returned to search the unit, Detective Superintendent Joseph Doueihi said the 24 year-old man attempted to escape by jumping off the balcony.

The alleged drug dealer was caught and arrested by police waiting at the back of the unit.

“It was quite evident entering the front door of the premises and (looking) into the bedroom, (officers) could see a large amount of bags and within the wardrobes were hundreds of kilograms of cocaine stacked up.” Det Supt Doueihi said.

“We certainly didn’t expect that large quantity of drugs.”

Officers found 722kg of cocaine with an estimated street value of more than $1 billion, thought to be one of the largest single NSW Police seizures that was not the result of an importation bust.

Det Supt Doueihi said the arrested occupant was from Melbourne and had leased the unit for a three-week period, but he was known to Victorian police.

The man was charged with supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime. 

All five men were refused bail and expected to appear in Burwood Local Court on Tuesday. 

Police will allege the four men broke into the unit complex intending to rob and kidnap the 24-year-old.

“You will only be a victim of this type of (alleged kidnapping) if you’re involved in organised crime, if you’re a major drug dealer,” Det Supt Doueihi said.

“Generally speaking, innocent people are not victims of kidnapping and serious robbery offences like this.”