This article originally appeared on VICE Australia.
Remember that brief period a few months ago when there seemed to be a whole bunch of drugs floating around in the waters off Australia? There was that boat full of coke that went missing in Papua New Guinea; those random packages that started washing up in Fiji; and that mysterious 20kg brick of cocaine that was found in the surf at a Sydney beach.
Well, looks like that may not be the last of it. In yet another incident of smugglers being foiled by the fact that Australia is girt by sea, a Dubai health cafe owner allegedly lost a container full of drugs after welding it to the bottom of a boat and attempting to sneak it into the continent.
Koder Jamaa’s hopes of slipping one past Australian border officials ultimately came unstuck when the drugs fell off into the sea and disappeared, a court has heard. Koder is one of three Jamaa brothers currently facing charges over an importation racket that saw them smuggling 200 kilograms of MDMA and 50 million cigarettes into Australia in 2017. It was his brother Abbas, according to Fairfax, who allegedly revealed the details of the underwater trafficking method whilst speaking to an undercover cop in the middle of last year. A few months later, all three brothers were arrested.
Koder—who, according to NewsCorp, left Sydney several years ago and set up the healthy eatery and delivery service Fit Food Kitchen in Dubai—has since pleaded guilty to importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. The court further heard that the Jamaa brothers’ syndicate paid off customs officials in order to safely smuggle large shipments of contraband into Australia, and carried out deals in the parking lot of an IKEA Warehouse.
Both Abbas and his brother Ali have been charged with a string of bribery-related offenses, as well as drug and tobacco importation, while Border Force team leader Craig Richard Eakin has pleaded guilty to aiding the importation of tobacco and receiving a bribe as a Commonwealth public official. NewsCorp reports that Eakin had been with the Australian Border Force for 19 years when he was arrested in August of last year, and was responsible for looking over paperwork in order to detect suspicious shipments. On the Jamaa brothers’ payroll, it seems, he turned a blind eye.
But what of the drugs that were unceremoniously lost at sea? It’s not known where, exactly, the precious cargo became detached—nor where that particular shipment even happened to be coming from. Koder was still living out of Dubai at the time of his arrest, while his syndicate has historically been caught trying to ship contraband from as far afield as the Netherlands.
That’s a pretty big pond for anyone thinking of going looking for the stray container. But if the past few months are anything to go by, there’s probably a bunch of other lost drugs out there just waiting to be found.