Media Release: Record ice seizure among half a tonne drug haul

Release Date: Tuesday, July 31 2012, 10:05 AM

This is a joint media release with the Australian Federal Police and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service have smashed an international drug syndicate, seizing 558kg of illicit drugs estimated to be worth up to half a billion dollars on Australian streets.

Over half a tonne of drugs, including 306 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine (ice) and 252 kilograms of heroin, were seized in Sydney during the operation, with seven people arrested.

This is the largest seizure of ice in AFP history and is also the AFP’s third largest seizure of heroin.

The AFP arrested four foreign nationals from Hong Kong as well as three Australia based syndicate members following eight search warrants in Sydney CBD and Western Sydney yesterday (Monday, 30 July 2012).

During yesterday’s search warrants the AFP also seized six kilograms of methamphetamine from a 55-year-old man’s Green Valley residence.

All seven alleged offenders are expected to face Sydney Central Local Court today.

The AFP commenced an investigation in August 2011 into an international organised crime syndicate allegedly planning to import illicit drugs into Australia. This followed information received from the US Drug Enforcement Administration. 

In January 2012, Customs and Border Protection identified a number of individuals believed to be associated with the international syndicate.

Investigations led to the targeting of two suspect cargo consignments. 

On 19 July 2012, Customs and Border Protection officers at the Port Botany Container Examination facility examined a shipment of 3,200 terracotta pots which had been imported from overseas in two shipping containers. The search revealed significant quantities of heroin and ice concealed within 100 terracotta pots.

It will be alleged in court that as a result of AFP controlled operation the seven men were arrested attempting to take possession of the drugs.

AFP Deputy Commissioner Operations Andrew Colvin said this significant operation has smashed an international drug syndicate and protected the countless lives which would have been affected by this importation. 

“This operation follows the AFP’s most successful year in terms of drug seizures.

“In the 2011/12 financial year, the AFP and its partner agencies seized almost 14 tonnes of illicit substances bound for drug distribution networks across Australia,” Deputy Commissioner Colvin said.

Customs and Border Protection Deputy Chief Executive Officer Mike Pezzullo said the operation reinforced the power of intelligence sharing and inter-agency cooperation in smashing transnational drug syndicates.

“The information that Customs and Border Protection officers collected and analysed ensured that the operation was able to identify syndicate members and prevent the shipment from reaching the streets,” Mr Pezzullo said.

Enquiries are continuing and the AFP has not ruled out further arrests.

Summary of charges

  • The four Hong Kong nationals, 42-year-old, 61-year-old, 29-year-old and 34-year-old men have been charged with conspiracy to import methamphetamine and heroin, contrary to section 307.1 and 11.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
  • The 29-year-old and 34-year-old have also been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of methamphetamine and heroin, contrary to section 307.5 and section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
  • The three Sydney men, a 42-year-old Fairfield, 60-year-old West Hoxton and 55-year-old Green Valley man have all been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of methamphetamine and heroin, contrary to section 307.5 and section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
  • The 55-year-old Green Valley man has also been charged with possession of a commercial quantity of methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.8 of the Criminal Code 1995.

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media (02) 6131 6333
Customs and Border Protection Media (02) 6275 6793