Three men associated with an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMCG) have been charged following a major multi-agency drug operation resulting in the seizure of approximately 119 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $119 million.
This operation, which has successfully disrupted an organised crime syndicate operating in Australia, involved the combined forces of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), South Australia Police (SA Police), the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Victoria Police.
Commencing earlier this month after ABF officers detected anomalies in a consignment which arrived into Melbourne from Malaysia, it will be alleged the 119kgs was concealed inside a purpose built transport stand, being used to secure commercial equipment.
Police enquiries revealed a similar consignment was due to be exported from Australia, and when examined, it will be alleged ABF officers located approximately $1.5 million cash – weighing more than 23 kilograms – concealed within the transport stand.
Authorities will allege this money was the proceeds of criminal activity here in Australia.
This seizure has stopped the movement of criminal profits overseas, and is just as disruptive to these syndicates as the seizure of illicit drugs.
The AFP then began a controlled delivery of the substituted consignment, which initially travelled to rural Victoria, and was then transported into a large rural property in South Australia.
On Saturday 22 April, the AFP with the assistance of South Australia Police arrested a 36-year-old Paralowie man after he attempted to access the substituted packages.
Police have also arrested a 33-year-old Kilburn man and a 29-year-old Smithfield man who are allegedly responsible for facilitating this importation to Australia.
On Saturday evening and Sunday, police conducted a number of search warrants across the South Australian suburbs, including the rural property in South Australia.
During these warrants, AFP teams located pieces of equipment from the substituted consignment buried on the property. It will be alleged that this property was to be used to store this importation.
The three men have been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code (Cth).
Police will allege the men are members or associates of a South Australian based OMCG.
AFP Commander Peter Sykora, State Manager South Australia, said the operation, which involved dozens of federal agents working with state police across two jurisdictions, was a fantastic example of the dedication of agencies working together for a common goal.
“The combined strength of police resources and commonwealth agencies had one common aim in this operation – to keep these drugs out of our communities and to defeat the destructive activities of outlaw motorcycle gangs,” Commander Sykora said.
“This attempt at importing a significant quantity of crystal methamphetamine had the potential to wreak havoc within the suburbs and homes of many South Australians. Organised criminals are singular in their quest to trade in misery, but law enforcement is equally determined to break the back of organised crime in Australia.”
Commander Sykora acknowledged the vital role of the ABF, South Australia and Victoria Police for their significant and sustained support in bringing this operation to a successful resolution.
“Many officers have worked tirelessly over a number of weeks to ensure those responsible for this importation are brought before the courts. The interagency cooperation has been outstanding,” he said.
The National Anti-Gangs Squad will continue to target the dangerous criminal activities of OMCGs. Investigations are continuing and further arrests and charges have not been ruled out.
SA Police’s Detective Chief Inspector Tony Crameri, Drug & Organised Crime Task Force, Serious and Organised Crime Branch says, “The arrests and seizure is a direct reflection of law enforcement’s collaboration, through joint operations and intelligence sharing, resulting in a significant seizure of an illicit substance which is a great risk to our community.”
Detective Chief Inspector Crameri further stated that: “SAPOL will continue to work in partnership with other law enforcement agencies to tackle organised crime groups, including Outlaw Motor Cycle Gangs who are involved in the importation, manufacturing and supplying of illicit drugs. Law enforcement is committed to the reduction of the harm caused by the use of illicit drugs in our community.”
“This successful operation highlights information sharing and joint investigations across all agencies are obtaining results. It is our intent to disrupt and dismantle any groups who are involved in the trafficking of illicit drugs and our ability to reach into these syndicates is greatly improved through the collaboration of joint agency operations.”
ABF Acting Commander Danielle Yannopoulos said the concealment highlighted the lengths organised crime groups go to in attempting to hide their illicit importations.
“It is no secret that the price paid for illicit drugs in Australia is amongst the highest in the world. For this reason, transnational organised crime groups—those that are motivated purely by profit and power—will go to great lengths to conceal their illicit drug importations.”
“I want to thank the ABF officers on the ground who made this detection, as well as each of the partner agencies involved in the investigation. Jointly we’ve stopped 119kg of ice hitting our streets, and have dismantled an organised crime syndicate that was allegedly profiteering from this insidious and life-destroying drug.”
The three men are expected to face the Adelaide Magistrates Court Monday 24 April.