Three more men have been charged over a massive $1 billion drug haul found on a tiny island off Western Australia after a yacht ran aground and was abandoned, sparking a search for its occupants.
Police swooped on Burton Island off Geraldton last week, finding Frenchman Antoine Dicenta, 51, and British man Graham Palmer, 34, allegedly with 1.087 tonne of methylamphetamine, cocaine and ecstasy in dozens of bags they’d attempted to hide under seaweed.
US national Jason Dean Lassiter, 45, Briton Scott Felix Jones, 35, and Angus Bruce Jackson, 50, from NSW, faced Perth Magistrates Court on Thursday, charged with conspiring and attempting to possess the drugs with intent to sell or supply.
The Australian was arrested at Perth Airport while the other two were nabbed in the CBD on Wednesday.
Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said it would be alleged they were “the shore party”.
“They were in another boat and they were ready to receive,” Mr Dawson told ABC radio.
“We’ve disrupted an international big drug syndicate here.”
The yacht was stuck on a reef about seven kilometres away near Stick Island and there were initially concerns the occupants of the boat were in trouble at sea, given a dinghy was missing.
As planes searched for them, a crayfisherman saw someone on Burton Island ducking down in a bid to hide in low scrub as aircraft flew overhead, Geraldton Volunteer Marine Rescue Service vice commander Damien Healy recently said.
When police arrived, Dicenta and Palmer made a run for their dinghy but were thwarted by a huge sleeping seal, Mr Healy told the broadcaster.
“They woke it up and it jumped up with its big chest out and bellowed at them.
“The guys basically had the choice of going through the seal or getting arrested and they ended up choosing getting arrested.”
Mr Dawson had a tip for the pair.
“If you’re in a hot pink shirt don’t try and hide in low scrub.”
Dicenta and Palmer faced court in Geraldton last week and will appear again on September 20.
Lassiter’s next court date is September 26, Jones is due on October 8 and Jackson is scheduled for November 21.
All five men have been refused bail and remanded in custody.