, MELBOURNE, Aug 3 – Two men from Hong Kong were on Friday handed lengthy jail terms in Australia after importing Aus$173 million (US$181 million) of cocaine hidden in lawnmowers.
Lau Pak Kwan, 34, was jailed for 20 years while Yim Yiu Chi, 36, was sentenced to 19 years for their part in one of the largest cocaine seizures ever made by Australian police.
A third man from Sydney, Samuel Hotin Yung, 21, was jailed for 11 years. All three pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
Their sentencing came just days after Australian police seized half a billion dollars worth of crystal methamphetamine and heroin after smashing another international drugs syndicate, also allegedly run by Hong Kong men.
“While all of you were acting on the part of others superior to you in your organisations, your participation was active and essential to those organisations,” Justice Terry Forrest said in the Victorian Supreme Court.
“It is my duty to impose long-term imprisonment for your roles.”
More than 200 kilograms of the drug was found in a shipping container holding eight ride-on lawnmowers packed in individual crates at Melbourne on August 19 last year. The ship had travelled from Brazil via Hong Kong.
Police then carried out a controlled delivery to an address in central Melbourne which led to the arrest of one of the men, with the two others subsequently caught.
At the time, police said it was fifth-largest seizure of cocaine ever in Australia and the biggest haul in Victorian state history.