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500kg cocaine bust leads to luxury treasure trove

When police raided Zhen Tao Qi's home on Sydney's North Shore after arresting him over a 500kg cocaine shipment, they found a treasure trove of luxury goods, including half a million dollars in high end watches.

Qi, who lived in well-to-do Wahroonga, also had $20,000 cash in the house, more than $130,000 in a bank account, while his wife drove an expensive Landrover

It's all owned by the Australian Government now, after the Australian Federal Police won an order from the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday to permanently seize the items.

Qi has pleaded guilty to smuggling the massive cocaine shipment, which police said was worth between $200-$300 million, to Australia via the Solomon Islands in 2018. He is behind bars, bail refused, and is awaiting sentencing.

Police said they had Qi on their radar for a number of years and took him down in an undercover investigation in September 2018.

Tuesday's court order saw police take ownership of the 2017 Land Rover Discovery registered to Qi's wife, Gina. with the Commonwealth claiming the $130,062 in the bank account of a company linked to Qi and the $20,000 cash police found in his Westbrook Ave home during his arrest. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Gina

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Fine watches found inside a Louis Vuitton bag and now handed over to the government included two Rolexes, a Perpetual Daytona Cosmograph and a Perpetual Date GMT-Master II, worth about $40,000 and $30,000 respectively,a Franck Muller Cintree Curvex Giga Tourbillon, worth about $5000,

Police also seized a Franck Muller Long Island (About $15,000), a Royal Oak Offshore Ginza 7 Chronograph ($50,000 to $80,000) and a Roger Dubuis Excalibur Double Tourbillon (Up to $325,000).

Police also took ownership of a 2016 Range Rover and a 2014 Land Rover Discovery that were registered to separate companies that were not owned by Qi.

An undercover police investigation resulted in Qi being arrested and charged over a half tonne shipment of cocaine worth between $200-$300 million that was destined for the east coast of Australia before it was seized in the Solomon Islands.

According to court documents, the drug haul had a GPS attached to it and was dumped off the side of a boat into the ocean. Another boat was then to pick up the drugs by tracking the GPS and bring them to Australia.

As Qi was being arrested, police also raided a Belgian registered yacht, known as Vieux Malin, at a mooring outside the Honiara marina in the Solomon Islands.

Qi appeared in the Downing Centre District Court on Friday.

Originally published as 500kg cocaine bust leads to luxury treasure trove

Source: www.thechronicle.com.au