Two Chinese men are accused of being part of a criminal syndicate that imported 370 kilograms of ephedrine into Australia hidden in wall tiles, canisters and cow milking machines.
Huan Tang and Yanpei Zhang were arrested in a raid on a residential property in Dundas in western Sydney, on Thursday after police a fortnight ago intercepted 100kg of ephedrine concealed in foil pouches secreted inside milking machines.
AAP understands the men, both 25, were in Australia on legitimate visas.
They were charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of ephedrine and appeared before Parramatta Local Court last Friday.
Australian authorities have seized 375 kilograms of ephedrine hidden in a shipping container in Sydney. Photo: Australian Border Force
They were remanded in custody to face the same court on October 31.
Investigations began in March when Australian Border Force officers intercepted a sea cargo shipment from China. Inside they discovered 27kg of ephedrine in a metal canister.
In April, another consignment arrived with 240kg of ephedrine concealed in wall tiles.
Officers then launched joint Operation Accinge with NSW Police targeting the criminal syndicate responsible.
The latest consignment – discovered on July 11 thanks to a piece of intelligence – brought the total amount of ephedrine seized to 370kg, authorities say.
The syndicate may have slipped previous imports past the border, drug squad commander Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke said.
“There are two Chinese nationals before the court and there has been two tonnes of ephedrine seized over a very short period,” he told reporters at a border force facility on Tuesday morning.
“There are, no doubt, more people out there who are engaged in this and see Australia as a fruitful market.”
The latest round of seizures comes after police intercepted the largest haul of ephedrine in Australia’s history – 1.4 tonnes – last month.
That investigation triggered a wave of raids across Sydney and dismantled a multi-million dollar criminal syndicate in which Asian crime gangs were allegedly working with outlaw motorcycle clubs to produce and distribute ice.
Det Supt Cooke would not comment on the structure of the syndicate raided last week but said law enforcement agencies understood criminal groups were now working together.
“This is about money for them, and about organised criminal activity,” he said.
“(But) like them we will continue to work together to produce these results to remove this rubbish from the community.”
Source credit: smh.com.au