^ Australia’s top agencies have joined forces to break up an international drug syndicate that reached from Colombia to Australia and also included Europe.
Polaris Joint Waterfront Taskforce (JWT, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF), Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) and Australian Crime Commission, along with the close cooperation from law enforcement counterparts in South America.
The operation started in May of 2014 when a person of interest arrived in Australia, suspected of facilitating the importation of border controlled drugs.
In December 2014, after close investigation, the Polaris JWT seized a shipment of 20,000 flavoured water bottles that were to be delivered to a Sydney warehouse. The AFP forensics examined the consignment, and identified 230kgs of liquid methamphetamine concealed inside the bottles. This large amount of methamphetamine is worth a whopping $156 million.
^ This shipment contained more than flavoured water
On 21st December 2014, agents in Bogota identified and seized 243kgs of cocaine relating to the same syndicate. The drugs were hidden in cardboard boxes that contained fresh flowers.
The joint taskforce continued to monitor shipments arriving into Australia from Colombia. On the 28th February 2015 Colombian National Police conduced a search of approximately two tonnes of fresh flowers that were destined for Sydney. The exam uncovered a further 10kgs of cocaine worth approx $3.6 million.
Fresh flowers being exported to Australia contained a bit more than colourful petals.
On Tues 3rd March 2015, Polaris JWT officers executed 11 search warrants across Sydney. Subsequently, five Australian men and one Spanish/Colombian national were arrested for their alleged involvement with this syndicate.
The men have been charged with:
- Importation of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug;
- Attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug; and
- Conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs.
These charges could attract a possible penalty of life imprisonment.
Investigations into the criminal syndicate continue.