Penalties and Defences for Importing Cocaine into Australia


Authorities have managed to uncover drugs concealed within aluminium alloy ingots in September, located at the Sydney Container Examination Facility.

Hidden inside the aluminium ingots were over $104 million worth of cocaine.

The drugs were concealed in a sophisticated way within more than 1,800 modified aluminium alloy ingots, which were imported from Mexico.

Police had executed search warrants at homes and vehicles in Auburn and Castle Hill in Sydney on Tuesday.

Amongst the items found by authorities during the search warrant included aluminium ingots and keys.

The keys found are believed to be linked to a storage room allegedly for purposes of taking storage of the imported aluminium ingots.

A 49-year-old man from Auburn in Sydney and 61-year-old UK man have been arrested and charged.

The men’s criminal proceedings have commenced at the Central Local Court in Sydney.

The discovery followed as a result of collaboration between the Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, NSW Crime Commission and the US Department of Homeland Security Investigations authorities.

Enforcement commander, Graeme Grosse from the ABF has said, “We have the intelligence capability and technology to find sophisticated concealments like this, no matter how professional they look.”

“Through close working relationships with our law enforcement partners both here and oversea, we continue to achieve significant operational outcomes, smashing illicit drug smuggling syndicates and tackling the growing demand for harmful substances such as cocaine in Australia.”

Have a question on drug law in Australia? Contact Sydney’s best criminal lawyers who specialise in drug law across all courts.

Penalties and Defences for Importing Cocaine into Australia

Australia has heavy penalties ranging from 2-years to life imprisonment for importing cocaine or any other ‘border-controlled drug’.

Cocaine, LSD, heroin, MDMA are all considered ‘border-controlled drugs’ under clause 1 of schedule 2 of the Criminal Code Regulations 2019 (Clth).

Different maximum penalties apply depending on the threshold quantity of the border-controlled drug.

To know which maximum penalty applies in a drug importation case, it is important to understand the threshold quantities of imported border-controlled drugs, which are as follows:

Cocaine has a marketable quantity of between 250g and less than 2kg. It also has a commercial quantity of at least 2kg or more.

Methamphetamine has a marketable quantity of between 250g and less than 750g. It has a commercial quantity of 750g or more.

Click here for more information on the different quantities of border-controlled drug.

What are the penalties for importing cocaine or any border-controlled drug? The maximum penalties for importing a marketable quantity of cocaine into Australia is 25-years gaol and/or fine of up to $1,050,000 prescribed by section 307.2 Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for importing a commercial quantity of cocaine into Australia is life in gaol and/or a fine of up to $1,575,000 according to section 307.1 Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for importing cocaine for a quantity other than marketable or commercial quantity if 10-years gaol and/or fine of up to $420,000 prescribed by section 307.3 Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

What are some defences to importing cocaine? A person facing a drug importation charge will be found ‘not guilty’ in court if any of the following defences apply:

  • The prosecution fail to prove any of the essential elements of the offence.
  • The accused person did not realise that the substance was a ‘border-controlled drug’.
  • The accused person was aware of only a mere possibility that it was a border-controlled drug.
  • The accused person had no intention to import the drug(s).
  • The accused person imported the drugs under a necessity or duress.

To import something into Australia under the law, means that the substance is required to have arrived in Australia from overseas, and that it then moved to a location within Australia where it remained.

The law in Australia also prescribe penalties for possessing imported border-controlled drugs in section 307.7 Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

These penalties range from 2-years imprisonment to life imprisonment depending on the quantity of the drug.

Click here to discover the penalties and defences for possessing imported drugs in Australia.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.


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