Media Release: Drug importers targeted in nationwide parcel post blitz

Release Date: Friday, May 18 2012, 10:03 AM

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

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service have seized 120 kilograms of illicit substances, including 80 kilograms of heroin and over six kilograms of drug analogues, imported into Australia via the postal system during a three-month targeted operation.

Drug analogues available within the illicit drug market are variants of a ‘parent compound’, usually a prohibited or scheduled drug. These substances have been chemically altered to give the same effect as other illicit substances.
 
The operation culminated in a national day of action yesterday where 22 search warrants were executed in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and South Australia. A total of 47 search warrants were executed over the period of this operation.

The AFP yesterday charged three people in Victoria and Queensland as a result of the national day of action. There are 22 cases already before the courts in connection to this operation.

This operation proves that no importation is too large or too small to escape the attention of Australian law enforcement agencies. The smallest seizure was half a gram of MDMA concealed in a mail envelope, the largest seizure was 71kg of heroin concealed in sachets labelled as herbal hair dye.

Items seized included 983 grams of cocaine concealed within a boxed jigsaw puzzle in Brisbane, 2.9 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in ceramic home wares and 850 grams raw opium hidden in four packages of woollen garments.

Customs and Border Protection National Manager Cargo Operations Jagtej Singh congratulated the officers involved in this operation for their commitment to protecting the community from these potentially harmful substances.

“Today’s arrests are yet another example of Australian law enforcement agencies sharing information, intelligence and resources to bring criminals to account,” Mr Singh said.

AFP Manager Crime Operations Commander Peter Sykora said for a number of years criminals have attempted to exploit the parcel post system through traditional, and more recently, online networks.

“Websites often market drug analogues as legal substances, but people need to understand they contain ingredients that are illegal to possess and import into Australia.

“Ignorance is no excuse when it comes to this crime type – the AFP and Customs are committed to targeting importations of all illicit substances on every scale.

“I would like to take this opportunity to warn people who might consider this type of importation, not only of the health risks associated with taking these unknown substances, but they could be facing maximum penalties of life imprisonment and/or an $825,000 fine” Commander Sykora said.

The AFP, Customs and Border Protection and partner agencies have so far this financial year prevented approximately 13 tonnes of illicit drugs from hitting Australia’s streets.

These activities are just part the ongoing commitment by law enforcement to target the illicit drug trade. This operation has provided law enforcement with valuable information that will form the basis of ongoing enquiries.

Further arrests have not been ruled out and investigations are ongoing.

Arrests
NSW - 9
VIC - 8
QLD - 3
ACT - 0
TAS - 1
NT - 0
WA - 4
SA - 0

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

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