Mysterious Aircraft Crashed Due To Excess Cocaine Onboard

Mysterious Aircraft Crashed Due To Excess Cocaine Onboard. Photo: ABC News

A Cessna 402C bound for Australia reportedly failed to take off as it was loaded with large quantity of cocaine making it too heavy to take off.


The Cessna 402C, with registration VH-TSI was loaded will cocaine of worth AU$80 million ($57.2 million). The aircraft attempted to take-off from a makeshift runway near Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea about 30 kilometres north-west of Port Moresby last Monday.

The planes transponder had been switched off. Its flight plan was not registered either and the plane was trying to land on a makeshift runway


The wrecked aircraft. Photo: ABC News

The aircraft was not cleared to enter the PNG and flight tracking shows it set out from Mareeba in Far North Queensland the day before the incident took place.

An Australian pilot along with four others have been charged with the cocaine trafficking. Local reporters reported that the Australian pilot handed himself to the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby on Wednesday and has since been charged with illegal entry.

The 51-year-old pilot, David Cutmore who escaped the crashed aircraft later turned himself into the Australian High Commission. He was subsequently detained by PNG police. 


According to the Australian Federal Police, Mr Cutmore is a former flying instructor from Melbourne. Previously, he was imprisoned in 1995, after illegally smuggling wild birds from Australia to New Zealand.

According to Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority records, the current registered owner of the Cessna aircraft VH-TSI, is Ravenpol No. 69 Limited, a company based in Port Moresby. However, the sole owner of the firm died last year.


Police Officials with cocaine bricks. Photo: AFP

Police investigators are working in collaboration with Australia Federal Police, PNG Air Accident Investigation Commission and Airport Services together to solve the puzzle of this mysterious crash.

The 39-year-old Cessna made two flights on 26 July, both from Mareeba airport on the Atherton Tablelands in northern Queensland. The first flight was a circular trip, that started and ended in Mareeba, with no cocaine onboard and lasted 51 minutes.

The aircraft flew below radar detection height at 2700 feet and continued flying to PNG disabling its transponder without appropriate clearance.


The aircraft flew below radar detection height.


After landing in the short grass runway in Papa Lea Lea, the Australian pilot along with other local people loaded the aircraft with over 500kg of cocaine. The load was far too much for the aircraft to handle on a short grass field.

Regarding this incident, Peter Timson, Assistant Commissioner of the Australian Border Force said:

"This particularly audacious attempt shows just how brazen criminal enterprises can be, but it also highlights just how effective the law enforcement response can be when we all work together."


The Police arrested Cutmore’s accomplice. Photo: AFA

PNG Police Commissioner David Manning said, urging those with information to come forward.

"We believe the PNG members of this criminal group assisted the pilot and retrieved the drugs from the plane." 

"Police are in possession of information related to the suspected PNG members of the group who have been involved in this criminal activity, including descriptions, unique features and tattoos," he added.


Although the police officials found all the cocaine onboard, they failed to provide such evidence to the judge. It resulted in Mr Cutmore escaping life imprisonment. He was sentenced to a fine of $874 or four months in a PNG jail (including hard labour).

The Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner of Investigations, Ian McCartney said:

"With current interstate travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19, the attempt to import illicit drugs into Australia shows how opportunistic and greedy organised crime can be."


The aircraft was owned by a dead person. Photo: ABC News

PNG Prime Minister James Marape called on PNG and Australian police to work together to investigate all the details. Marape told local media:

"We are not a banana republic where anyone can pick up a plane and just come into PNG unannounced."

"We will have no place for those who think they could peddle drugs in this country," Mr Marape added.


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