A light aircraft packed out with cocaine was too heavy to take off, police said.
The plane was destined to go from Papua New Guinea to Queensland, Australia, but it crashed on take off, reports 9 News.
It’s reported the plane was carrying $80 million worth of the illegal drug which weighed 500 kilograms – about the same weight as a horse.
Police allege the plane had already flown illegally at a low height from Mareeba in Far North Queensland to the country, to avoid radar detection.
In a statement issued by the Australian Federal Police, they said: “The AFP alleges greed played a significant part in the syndicate’s activities and cannot rule out that the weight of the cocaine had an impact on the plane’s ability to take off.”
Local police the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary seized the consignment.
The five men in Australia have been charged and face multiple charges for trying to import the drugs and could be looking at life in prison.
Police say they have links to Italian organised crime.
The Queensland Joint Organised Crime Taskforce allege the group travelled from Melbourne and Sydney to Atherton, near Cairns, to import and collect the cocaine.
AFP Deputy Commissioner Investigations Ian McCartney said it’s the end of a two-year multi-agency drugs operation.
“These arrests prove no matter how sophisticated or opportunistic organised crime’s attempts are, or the methods they use, law enforcement is keeping pace and causing maximum damage to these criminal ventures,” Dep. Comm. McCartney said.