Sunday, August 2, 2020

Overloaded plane sinks Oz cocaine traffickers

A light aircraft overloaded with cocaine crashed on take-off on its way to Australia, exposing a Melbourne-based crime syndicate and leading to the arrest of five men with links to the Italian mafia. The Cessna was stuffed with more than 500 kg (1,100 pounds) of cocaine, and went down while attempting to leave a remote airstrip in Papua New Guinea. The weight of the cocaine had a severe impact on the plane's ability to take off. Authorities said the plane had flown to Papua New Guinea from the small town of Mareeba in Far North Queensland, flying at about 3,000 feet to avoid detection by radar.
A week after a Cessna 402C twin-engine aircraft crash-landed in mysterious circumstances at a makeshift airfield in scrubland at Papa Lealea, the cocaine was eventually found after a search of the area. Its total value was estimated to be around $80m.

Two days after the crash, the Australian man alleged to have flown the plane into PNG, David John Cutmore, handed himself in.