A NSW Joint Organised Crime Group (JOCG) investigation into a 200-kilogram shipment of crystal methamphetamine (Ice) hidden inside machinery yesterday resulted in the arrest of three men.
The JOCG is a multiagency taskforce comprising members from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), NSW Police Force (NSWPF), Australian Border Force (ABF), Department of Home Affairs (DHA), NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC) and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).
A 22-year-old Chinese national and two Taiwanese nationals, aged 22 and 29, are scheduled to face Sydney Central Local Court today after being charged with offences relating to the importation and attempted possession of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.
The ABF targeted the container arriving in Sydney on April 21, 2018 from Malaysia. It was examined and x-rayed by ABF officers at the Port Botany Container Examination Facility upon arrival, and after further examination and deconstruction, the Ice was found concealed within two metal lathes.
Each of the lathes was found to contain packages marked as tea that contained a crystalline white substance that presumptively tested positive to crystal methamphetamine. The packages were subsequently removed and substituted with an inert substance by members of the JOCG as part of a controlled operation.
On Monday, May 7, the lathes were delivered to a warehouse in the Sydney suburb of Kingsgrove. The two Taiwanese nationals were arrested yesterday (May 9) after they accessed the concealment and attempted to move it to another locations. The Chinese national was arrested after he left the warehouse at a later stage.
JOCG members subsequently executed search warrants on the Kingsgrove warehouse and on three other premises in the Sydney suburbs of Kingsgrove, Riverwood and Strathfield.
AFP Detective Superintendent Stephen Dametto, Coordinator Organised Crime, said investigations were ongoing regarding the source of the shipment.
"The simple fact is that you require links to organised crime to finance, acquire, transport and distribute 200 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, and we will continue our investigation into what those links are," Det. Supt. Dametto said.
"Part of these ongoing enquiries will include the AFP's international network to find out where this shipment of drugs originated and the extent that offshore organised crime groups were involved."
NSW Police Organised Crime Squad Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Damian Beaufils, said the seizure illustrates that there is still a high demand for ice in Australia.
"The main game for organised criminal groups will always be profit, and when dealing in illicit drugs, this demand makes Australia a lucrative market," Det. a/Supt. Beaufils said.
"NSW Police Force and our partners will continue to make seizures like this and arrest syndicate members – that's our job. What we need is a whole of community commitment to change the perception and acceptance of illicit drugs. It's the only way we can make a real and lasting impact on the profits of organised criminal groups that target NSW."
ABF Regional Commander New South Wales, Danielle Yannopoulos, said organised criminal syndicates are using sophisticated smuggling methods in an attempt to evade ABF scrutiny, but officers have the expertise and technology to see right through even the most elaborate concealment attempts.
"This operation once again demonstrates the effectiveness of the ABFs ability to detect illicit drugs at the border and highlights the success of our collaborative approach to fighting organised crime."
All three men were charged with attempt to possess a commercial quantity of unlawfully imported border controlled drugs, contrary to section 307.5, by virtue of section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act (Cth) 1995.
The Chinese man was also charged with Importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act (Cth) 1995.
If convicted, the maximum sentence for each offence is life imprisonment.