A joint operation between the Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Queensland Police Service (QPS) has resulted in the arrest of a fugitive allegedly attempting to flee Australia on a jet ski.
On 25 March, ABF received information from Queensland Police in Bamaga, that a man, possibly armed with a crossbow and carrying additional fuel and supplies, had been seen launching the jet ski at Pundsand Bay on Cape York. It was identified the individual was likely a 57-year-old UK national who was subject to an outstanding warrant for drug related charges in Western Australia, an ABF press release said.
ABF Northern Command initiated a co-ordinated response with QPS and AFP, with officers from the three agencies deployed to the northern Torres Straits islands by assets from Maritime Border Command (MBC) – a multi-agency taskforce within the ABF.
ABF Border Monitoring Officers, Torres Strait Councillors and community members identified the man’s travel path and his intention to purchase fuel to facilitate his travel to PNG.
Following further coordination through the Australian Border Operations Centre (ABOC) in Canberra, Maritime Border Command deployed Australian Border Force Cutter Roebuck Bay to respond.
ABFC Roebuck Bay, with ABF, AFP and QPS officers on board, located the jet ski and the man on mudflats on the eastern side of Saibai Island. One of the vessel’s tenders was deployed and the embarked QPS officer detained the individual.
He was taken on board ABFC Roebuck Bay and was transported to Thursday Island where he was held by QPS pending extradition to WA. The jet ski was towed to Saibai island.
ABF Commander Northern Command, Jo Crooks, said the result highlighted the effectiveness of the collaborative joint agency approach in the Torres Strait.
“This is a perfect example of local intelligence sharing, community support, ABOC coordination and our maritime capability, all working together to enable a quick and effective multi-agency response to a situation,” Commander Crooks said.
“Through our posture in the Torres Strait and working closely with our AFP and QPS partners, we have the ability to detect a range of border threats, including suspicious movements through the region. Anyone who thinks they can either enter or leave Australia through the region without detection should think again.
“The ABF would like to recognise the efforts of ABF Border Monitoring officers on Moa, Dauan and Saibai, as well as community, council members and councillors on Saibai, Dauan, Sigabadaru and Mabaduan.”
An AFP Spokesperson said the location and arrest of the man was a testament to the AFP’s strong intelligence and policing partnerships.
“This arrest sends a strong message to would-be fugitives – our reach across Australia is second to none and we will use all our contacts and relationships to find you and bring you before a court,” an AFP Spokesperson said.