Seven men and a woman have been charged for their alleged involvement in the importation of 540 kilograms methamphetamine into Sydney. The total street value of the drugs is approximately $324 million.
The men appeared in Sydney Central Local Court yesterday following the culmination of a joint operation conducted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Border Force (ABF). The woman was arrested yesterday afternoon, and is scheduled to appear in Central Local Court today.
On Monday, 27 February 2017, a sea cargo consignment that arrived in Sydney from the United States was targeted and examined by ABF officers, who discovered a white substance concealed within 396 bottles labelled as protein powder.
Initial testing of the substance returned a positive result for methamphetamine with a total weight of approximately 540 kilograms. Further forensic testing will be conducted to determine the exact weight and purity.
The AFP then began a controlled operation, which involved the delivery of the consignment to a unit in Smithfield in western Sydney.
On Monday evening (6 March 2017), seven men arrived at the unit and allegedly accessed the consignment. The men – all Australian citizens aged between 20 and 31 – were subsequently arrested.
Each man was charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.5, by virtue of section 11.1, of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The AFP conducted a number of search warrants in western Sydney as part of this investigation. Police found approximately five kilograms of methamphetamine and smaller quantities of ecstasy and cocaine, along with drug paraphernalia, five firearms and ammunition, and $35,000 cash.
As a result of these warrants, a 23-year-old woman was arrested at a residence in Green Valley. She was charged with:
• attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.5, by virtue of section 11.1, of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
• attempting to traffic a commercial quantity of a controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 302.2, by virtue of section 1, of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.
AFP Commander Chris Sheehan, State Manager NSW, said the final phase of the operation resulting in the eight arrests unfolded quickly.
“Our officers showed tremendous flexibility, ingenuity and determination to bring to account the criminal syndicate allegedly responsible for this importation,” Commander Sheehan said
“We will continue to work with our law enforcement and border protection partners to throw everything we have at those who threaten the safety of our community.”
“On this occasion, we’re proud to say we’ve stopped half a tonne of this life-ruining drug from reaching Australian streets.”
ABF Regional Commander NSW, Tim Fitzgerald, agreed with the AFP that all officers involved in the operation showed great determination in preventing five million hits of methamphetamine reaching vulnerable Australians.
“This significant seizure occurred as a direct result of some outstanding analytical work after a 4kg seizure of cocaine in a parcel at the International Mail Centre in Clyde,” Regional Commander Fitzgerald said.
“Subsequent intelligence analysis linked the 4kg of cocaine with a sea cargo container and lead to the detection of 540kg of the drug methamphetamine concealed within protein powder.
“The ABF and our partners will continue to target and disrupt the criminal syndicates involved in pedaling what can only be described as an evil drug.”