Media Release: Multi-agency investigation leads to five arrests
Release Date: Thursday, June 07 2012, 12:00 PM
A multi-agency investigation has smashed a Sydney-based heroin syndicate, leading to the arrest of five individuals and the seizure of approximately 20 kilograms of heroin.
The operation—codenamed Operation Joshua—was launched by NSW Police and the NSW Crime Commission in October 2011. The partnership was expanded to include the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.
Customs and Border Protection and the AFP targeted and intercepted a shipping container from Thailand when it arrived in Australia.
Inside the container Customs and Border Protection officers found 190 boxes of clothing and rubber boots, and two separate boxes concealing sports bags that held approximately 20 kilograms of a white powder substance wrapped in newspaper.
Preliminary testing indicated that the substance was heroin.
Yesterday evening (6 June, 2012), five people were arrested in relation to this matter.
Police subsequently executed seven search warrants at Mount Annan, Narellan Vale, Casula, Belfield, Punchbowl and Wiley Park where items related to the investigation were seized along with prohibited firearms, drugs, ammunition and cash.
A 49-year-old Belfield man and two men from Mount Annan, aged 55 and 52, have been charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a controlled drug, namely heroin, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
The two Mount Annan men have also been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely heroin, contrary to section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
Two men from Narellan Vale, aged 66 and 64 have been charged with attempting to traffic a commercial quantity of a controlled drug, namely heroin contrary to section 302.2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.
Customs and Border Protection National Director of Compliance and Enforcement Roxanne Kelley said the success of this operation was down to the outstanding work done by all agencies involved.
"This is further evidence that the key to tackling organised crime and protecting our borders is through cooperation and the sharing of intelligence," Ms Kelley said.
NSW Police Central Metropolitan Region Commander Mark Murdoch said the drug seizure and arrests serve as a warning to others trying to beat Australia's law enforcement agencies.
"If you even think you can smuggle this sort of contraband into the country, watch out—we will find you, smash your operation, and put you before the courts," Assistant Commissioner Murdoch said.
Assistant Commissioner Murdoch also paid tribute to the expertise and tenacity of the investigators whose efforts have culminated in the arrests.
"It's been a long running investigation and demonstrates the effectiveness of agencies working together to defeat those whose business it is to peddle misery and destroy lives."
AFP Manager Sydney Office Brian McDonald said this operation was another example of the exceptional cooperative effort between the AFP and its crime-fighting partners in combating the importation of drugs into Australia.
"This operation shows Australian law enforcement is more united and better equipped than ever before in the fight against organised crime," Commander McDonald said.
Further forensic testing will be undertaken to confirm the exact weight and purity of the substance.
Footage and images are available for download on our extranet on the AFP website. If you require access please contact AFP National Media.
AFP National Media (02) 6131 6333
New South Wales Police Media (02) 8263 6100
Customs and Border Protection Media (02) 6275 6793