900 kgs.of drugs,a beached yacht and an aggressive elephant seal blocking smuggler's escape on a remote Australian island
Australian police seized $1 billion worth of drugs — after the smugglers' escape was blocked by a giant seal
'The guys basically had the choice of going through the seal or getting arrested and they ended up choosing getting arrested'
This photo taken on November 17, 2009 and released by the Australian Antarctic Division on November 24, 2009, shows an iceberg floating past an elephant seal on Australia's Macquarie Island.Jason Ahrens/AFP/Getty Images
September 12, 2019
3:42 PM EDT
Australian police busted an international drug smuggling ring, arresting five people in connection with a billion-dollar haul discovered on a tiny Western Australian island.
And they owe it all to a giant, angry seal.
On Tuesday, Sept. 3, police found Frenchman Antonine Robert Dicenta, 51, and Briton Kurt Palmer, 34, crouching on Burton Island with over 900 kilograms of crystal meth, cocaine and ecstasy, hidden in bags under a mass of seaweed.
Police went to the island after receiving reports of a yacht that had run aground nearby. Concerned about the yacht’s occupants after noticing its dinghy was missing, they searched the surrounding area using planes. A crayfisherman then noticed one of the men hiding in the island scrub, according to Damien Healy, a volunteer marine rescue service member.
Once spotted, Dicenta and Palmer allegedly tried to run for it — only to be blocked by a sleeping, “big, huge seal.”
The police found the smugglers hiding out on Burton island after their yacht ran aground nearby. WA Police Handout
“They woke it up and it jumped up with its big chest out and bellowed at them,” Healy told ABC radio.
“The guys basically had the choice of going through the seal or getting arrested and they ended up choosing getting arrested.”
On Thursday, American Jason Dean Lassiter, 45, Briton Scott Felix Jones, 35, and Australian Angus Bruce Jackon, 50, were also charged by Perth magistrates court in connection with the drug discovery.
Jackon was arrested at Perth airport, while the others were found in the centre of Perth on Wednesday.
All five have been refused bail and remain in custody, awaiting trial.
A tip for future drug smugglers looking to hide on remote islands? “If you’re in a hot pink shirt don’t try and hide in low scrub,” Healy said.