After 101kg of crystal methamphetamine – or “ice” – was found hidden in the floor of a shipping container, five men were arrested and charged with attempting to smuggle the drug.
According to a joint statement between the AFP, NSW Police, ABF, ACIC and the NSW Crime Commission, the operation began with information from Taskforce Blaze that a container departing Yantian Port in Shenzhen, China had the consignment of drugs concealed in the floor.
A 22-year-old Fijian national was arrested on Friday, February 24, for his alleged role in facilitating the attempted importation after the container was delivered to an address in Western Sydney.
Two other men, a 38-year-old Australian man and a 42-year-old Hong Kong resident, were arrested and charged later on the same day for their alleged involvement in the syndicate.
One Chinese national and one Hong Kong resident were arrested in Guangdong Province, China in connection with the alleged importation.
Australian Federal Police Detective Acting Superintendent Luke Needham, Coordinator Organised Crime, said the operation was another success for the Taskforce Blaze partnership with the Chinese National Narcotics Control Commission.
“This unprecedented merging of our two countries’ efforts to combat organised crime is continuing to pay dividends in the form of harmful drugs that will never reach Australian streets,” Detective Acting Superintendent Needham said.
ABF Regional Commander NSW Tim Fitzgerald said the operation demonstrates the ability of Australian law enforcement to detect illicit drugs before they reach the community.
“Through intelligence sharing and world-class border screening our highly trained officers work tirelessly to stop these drugs at the border,” Commander Fitzgerald said.
“Crystal methamphetamine is a scourge which destroys lives and tears apart families. Working collaboratively with our partner agencies, we have successfully stopped a significant quantity of crystal methamphetamine reaching our streets.”
Deputy Commander Taskforce Blaze Jianwei Deng said this operation was another success for Taskforce Blaze, which is promoted by senior officials of both the National Narcotics Control Commission and the AFP.
“This success shows that despite the current global spread of drugs, transnational drug trafficking crimes can only be curbed through strengthened international drug law enforcement co-operation.”
The investigation, dubbed “Operation Valencia”, was conducted by the NSW Joint Organised Crime Group (JOCG) – comprising members from the AFP, NSW Police, ABF, ACIC and the NSWCrime Commission – which included co-operation from Taskforce Blaze in China, co-ordinated by the AFP’s Guangzhou Post.