By Tim Balk, New York Daily News
They didn’t get very high.
A small plane reportedly packed with more than 1,000 pounds of cocaine crashed after taking off from a remote runway in Papua New Guinea a week ago, paving the way to the arrests of five men.
The Australian Federal Police said in a statement that authorities “cannot rule out that the weight of the cocaine had an impact on the planes ability to take off.”
Members of a criminal organization based in Melbourne, Australia, were charged in connection with the crash, cops said.
The Cessna model light aircraft was discovered empty after it crashed, but its pilot was arrested two days later at the Australian consulate in Papua New Guinea, according to The Age, an Australian newspaper.
Authorities said the cocaine haul — worth more than $50 million in U.S. dollars — was headed for Australia, which is located south of Papua New Guinea across the Torres Strait.
“This particularly audacious attempt shows just how brazen criminal enterprises can be,” Australian Border Force Assistant Commissioner Peter Timson said in a statement.