The Australian Border Force (ABF) has successfully disrupted an organised criminal syndicate with links in China and Australia, following the seizure of approximately 40 kilograms of the prohibited precursor drug ephedrine and the arrest of three people in Sydney.
Part of the seizure
The quantity of ephedrine seized would have a street value of over $6 million once converted into methamphetamine (ice).
A 28-year-old man from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a 22-year-old woman from the PRC, and an 18-year-old Australian man all appeared in Central Local Court on Wednesday 2 December on charges related to the importation of 25kg of ephedrine.
The ABF also intercepted a second consignment allegedly associated with the group containing about 15 kilograms of ephedrine, which officers seized on Wednesday.
ABF Regional Commander NSW, Tim Fitzgerald, hailed the seizures as an important breakthrough in disrupting a significant organised criminal network which had attempted to test a variety of Australian border entry points, including sea and air cargo.
“This week’s effective ABF operation sends a clear message to criminal groups that our officers will not only intercept drugs at our border but will actively pursue, arrest and seek to prosecute people facilitating the illicit drug industry; an industry that causes terrible harm to our community,” Commander Fitzgerald said.
ABF officers intercepted a sea cargo consignment from China at the Container Examination Facility at Port Botany in Sydney and tracked the consignment this week to an address in the Sydney suburb of Ryde.
Following further investigations, ABF officers arrested and charged three people following the discovery of 25 kilograms of ephedrine concealed in boxes of ceramic paintings sent from China.
A fourth man associated with the seizure and arrests, a 29-year-old unlawful non-citizen from Indonesia, was detained and transferred to Villawood Immigration Detention Facility pending his removal from Australia.
“The ABF continues to work with partner agencies such as the Australian Federal Police, State and Territory Police Forces, the Australian Crime Commission and, importantly, counterpart agencies in source countries, to tackle the problem of transnational crime across our border,” Commander Fitzgerald said.
“Diligent ABF investigators know that each drug seizure is another step towards protecting Australians from the damaging impact of drugs like ice on individuals and families.”
All three people have been remanded to appear in court on 27 January 2016.
The maximum penalty for importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled precursor without a permit, such as ephedrine, is a fine of up to $550,000 and/or 5 years in jail.