Panama Drug Bust Stops 600kg of Narcotics from Reaching Australia’s Shores, Police Say

Three men have appeared in a Sydney court after an international police operation uncovered an alleged conspiracy to import more than 600 kilograms of ice and cocaine from South America to Australia.

Detectives from the NSW Police Organised Crime Squad, the Crime Commission and the US Drug Enforcement Administration began investigating the Sydney-based transnational syndicate in 2016.

Investigators, with help from the Australian Federal Police and Panamanian authorities, intercepted 313 kilograms of ice in Panama on Tuesday.

Police said they also uncovered an alleged plot to import 300 kilograms of cocaine from South America to Australia.

A man in handcuffs being taken away by a police officer.

Two of the men, aged in their 60s, were arrested at a warehouse in Alexandria on Tuesday morning.

The alleged syndicate leader – a 37-year-old man – was arrested at Coogee a short time later.

They were charged with various offences.

Robert Albert Piras, 60, Scott May, 37, and Trevor Derley, 64, were all refused bail in Sydney’s Central Local Court.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Smith said the investigation had brought down the syndicate’s operation in New South Wales.

“These are three major players at the head of a criminal syndicate importing these large quantities of drugs into New South Wales,” he said.