How Police Use Fake Drugs To Track Illegal Shipments

In 1996, NSW Customs intercepted a horse-drawn carriage filled with 12 kilograms of cocaine. Police tracked the shipment to gather intel on a Sydney drug ring.

Cocaine, marijuana and heroin importations became more common in the late 1980s, making their way to the streets of Melbourne and Sydney.

Veteran detective Nigel Phair used customs surveillance to gather intelligence on the ways criminals were smuggling drugs into Australia.

Ex-cop Nigel Phair talks about investigating drug importations on the Crime Insiders podcast:

Customs notified Phair about a cocaine importation from Uruguay, packed inside a horse-drawn carriage.

“We took all the drugs out. We weighed them all. We measured them all and replaced them with an inert substance and did what we call a controlled delivery,” Phair said.

Police shipped the carriage to its intended destination, using video and audio surveillance to monitor it. Footage showed a man with a large nylon wig trying to collect it.

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Phair interviewed the man who was an Elvis Presley impersonator. He claimed to have the goal of coming to Australia to open a Mexican restaurant, using the carriage as decoration.

Police discovered the man was accepting the shipment for a ‘friend of a friend’.

“We went into the next stage of the investigation, which was trying to work out who this friend of a friend was, and hopefully seeing whether they would turn up and pick up the carriage and the ramp.”

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