Australian Border Force

Over 800 Lbs. Of Cocaine Worth $140 Million Found Hidden In An Excavator

Sometimes, it pays off to look a little deeper.

Australian police used an x-ray scan to look inside a piece of construction equipment — revealing a truly staggering amount of illegal drugs.

It was a multi-agency effort.

Wikimedia Commons | Jeremy

Officers from the Australian Border Force, New South Wales Police, and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) worked together to conduct a raid on a landscaping business in Bungendore, not far from the Australian capital of Canberra.

That landscaping business had some equipment.

Unsplash | Jonny Caspari

It's not uncommon for a business like this to own some earth-moving equipment. But one piece of equipment — an excavator much like this one — attracted a little more scrutiny.

An x-ray revealed the payload.

Australian Border Force

Inside the excavator, police found 348 kilograms of cocaine — that's a little over 837 pounds. The street value was estimated at $140 million Australian dollars. That works out to a little shy of $100 million U.S. dollars.

Why did they zero in on the excavator?

Australian Border Force

Police say they'd been tracking the device since it left South Africa. It was imported into Australia via the seaport at Port Kembla. Police sent it to the Sydney suburb of Port Botany for the x-ray.

Two men were charged.


Police charged Adam Hunter (seen here) and Timothy Engstrom with importing a commercial quantity of a controlled drug. Both men reported for a court appearance in the capital region via video link.

They thought it was the perfect crime.

Australian Border Force

"It's clear to us that this group thought bringing drugs into our district in this type of machinery would avoid police interest," said ACT Policing Chief Ray Johnson, "How wrong they were."

It was no small-scale operation.

Australian Border Force

Police said the way the drugs were packed and then hidden inside the excavator was expertly done. "This is an incredibly sophisticated concealment, from outside the excavator looked very normal in appearance," said Sharon Huey of the Australian Border Force.

Is someone looking for some snow?

No, there's no pun here. Police believe the massive shipment of cocaine may have been intended for winter sports enthusiasts at nearby ski resorts. It is winter in Australia right now, after all.

It was an elaborate raid.

Australian Border Force

They actually identified and removed the cocaine from the excavator. They then replaced it with an inert substance before returning it to the unaware drug dealers. Then, they moved in to make the bust.

It's an impressive show of police cooperation.

Multiple agencies came together to make a massive bust, all because they scrutinized absolutely everything — even an otherwise normal looking piece of construction equipment. Well done!

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

h/t: ABC News