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An incredible police photograph shows the moment that a drug smuggler realised that his huge stash that he thought was safely buried in the ground had gone missing.
Christian Tachev claimed that he worked as a personal trainer and sold vapes in order to make ends meet, but in truth he was the courier in a ‘sophisticated’ drugs operation that worked in Western Australia.
Unbeknownst to him, the police had been conducting a sting and managed to capture the exact moment that he realised that a huge amount of drugs - which a judge said had a street value of between AU $9,910,934 (£5.7m/$7.5m) and AU $12,373,342 (£7.2m/US $9.4m) - weren't in the spot that he’d buried them in the bushland.
The 25-year-old had been watched by police surveillance teams for a while, and he eventually led them to a bit of land where he dug up 15kg of methamphetamine in total.
When the police swooped, he was loading AU $500,000 (£289k/US $378k) into the back of a car.
Tachev had buried 10kg of drugs in Edgewater Park, to the north of Perth, last year before a member of the Hells Angels Outlaw Motorcycle Gang came to dig that up.
The biker was arrested.
Police then looked at another spot to the southwest of the city that Tachev had also visited, and in a small hole, they found another 5kg of meth.
The Australian Federal Police then obtained a ‘surveillance device warrant’, which allowed them to set up the camera.
On 19 March last year, Tachev was filmed turning up and digging with gloves on for 25 minutes.
He appeared visibly shocked when he realised that the package was gone – that’s because the coppers had already dug it up.
It’s not clear whether he thought the package contained money or drugs, but the police later picked him up with a large sum of money.
He was charged with commercial drug trafficking and dealing with the proceeds of crime.
Sentencing, West Australian Supreme Court Justice Joseph McGrath said: “The offences that you have committed are most serious.”
He added that Tachev was motivated ‘solely by financial gain’, although the court ‘accepted that [his] role could be described as that of a courier’.
The judge added: “However, there was a high level of sophistication to your conduct given the manner in which the drugs were buried and concealed in bushland areas around Perth, and the fact that these locations were only able to be located through GPS coordinates."
“Whilst your role may be described as a 'courier', I am satisfied that the role you undertook was pivotal to the trafficking of methylamphetamine in the community,” Judge McGrath said.
“I further find that whilst you undertook the role of courier, you obviously had trust reposed in you from other persons involved in the trafficking and that you undertook a vital role in endeavouring to achieve success in respect of the criminal activity.”
The police have since confirmed that the drugs seizure took around 150,000 hits off the streets.
AFP Senior Constable Josh Gilmour said: “People who move cash and drugs for criminal syndicates play a vital role in helping other members to profit from this damaging trade.
“The AFP and our partners are working tirelessly to stop drugs from reaching our community and arresting those involved in the distribution.”
Tachev will be able to apply for parole after serving seven and a half years.
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