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Czech police charge 60 in drug smuggling ring led by Vietnamese

By AFP   June 12, 2018 | 06:15 pm PT
The gang is suspected of having managed to smuggle more than 700 kilograms of drugs to Australia.

Czech police said Tuesday they had charged 60 people with drug trafficking after busting a ring smuggling cocaine and heroin to Australia via the United States and Thailand.

"The group was led by three Vietnamese organizers, one active in the Czech Republic and the other two in other countries," Barbora Kudlackova, spokeswoman for the National Anti-Drug Center, told AFP.

She said the ringleaders hired mostly impoverished or indebted Czech nationals as couriers.

Working in pairs, the couriers booked a holiday in Australia, flying via the U.S. or Thailand with four suitcases that were swapped during the stopover.

"The drug was hidden in the luggage in a way that prevented its discovery by X-ray or a sniffer dog," said Kudlackova.

Each suitcase contained five kilos (11 pounds) of the drug, meaning 20 kilos of cocaine or heroin were smuggled into Australia during each trip.

The gang is suspected of having managed to smuggle more than 700 kilograms of drugs.

"In Czech Republic alone, sixty people have been charged so far," police said in a statement, also confirming that one ringleader was in custody.

All face between 10-18 years behind bars if found guilty.

Australian police have detained four couriers, three of whom have been sentenced to 7-9 years in prison, said Kudlackova.

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