Serbian police have arrested three Australian men suspected of being part of an international drug-smuggling group that tried to bring more than a tonne of cocaine into Sydney last year.
The police alleged in a statement issued on Wednesday that the men “are linked to” the discovery of 1280 kilograms of cocaine that was seized in April 2017 on a Chinese container boat docked in Sydney, Australia.
The drugs were said to be worth $500 million.
Serbian authorities said the arrests were made in cooperation with Australian police.
A spokesman for the Australian Federal Police told AAP they were aware of the reports but “the men are the subject of an investigation in Serbia, it would not be appropriate for the AFP to provide further comment at this time”.
An English-speaking Serbian broadcaster, b92, reported the men arrested have been identified by their initials and year of birth as Australian citizens: T.V. (1983), R.A. (1974), and D.K. (1969), and D.G. (1977), a citizen of Lebanon.
The Lebanese citizen was detained and charged with having forged identity documents.
Serbian police released dramatic footage of the arrests that took place in the lobby of a Belgrade hotel.
A bag filled with foreign currency banknotes also was shown, and police said the arrests were made during a “money handover”.
B92 reported the men were arrested with a large amounts of various currencies, including euros, Australian, US and Singaporean dollars, Czech korunas, Vietnamese dong, Japanese yen, Chinese yuan, Thai bahts, and Serbian dinars, as well as one pistol.
Serbian authorities said they would “continue to cooperate with Australia’s authorities in order to implement further action related to this permanent international investigation”.