Media Release: Three arrested, 58kgs of heroin concealed in wooden altar seized

Release Date: Monday, November 12 2012, 10:29 AM

Three men have been charged in a joint operation for allegedly attempting to import 58kgs of narcotics into Australia hidden within wooden furniture, including a wooden altar.

The operation was conducted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Customs and Border Protection Service with assistance provided by the Queensland Police.

All three men will appear before the Brisbane Magistrates Court today (Monday 12 November).

Acting on intelligence, the investigation began on 6 November 2012 when Customs and Border Protection officers selected a container for examination at the Brisbane Container Examination Facility (CEF).

The consignment was unpacked from the container at Brisbane CEF and x-rayed, which showed anomalies within the furniture and the wooden altar. On further examination by Customs and Border Protection officers, the wooden altar was found to be excessively heavy.

Physical inspection of the furniture uncovered false compartments containing approximately 78 packages of a white powdered substance. The substance was subject to a presumptive test which returned a positive result for heroin.

AFP officers subsequently executed search warrants in Munruben, South of Brisbane on Saturday 10 November.
Three men, aged 32 years, 29 years and 47 years, were charged by the AFP with:

  • Attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully imported, contrary to section 307.5 (1) and 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1995(Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment and/or a $825,000 fine.

AFP Manager Crime Operations Commander Jennifer Hurst said this joint investigation is yet another example of effective collaboration between the agencies involved.

“This significant seizure will have a direct impact on the availability of illicit drugs in the community,” Commander Hurst said.

Customs and Border Protection National Manager Cargo Operations Jagtej Singh said the operation reinforced the power of intelligence sharing and inter-agency cooperation in stopping illegal drugs from entering Australia.

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

“Heroin is a terrible drug that destroys people’s lives. This seizure is another positive example of the work that our officers and law enforcement partners do in intelligence and at the frontline everyday to maintain the integrity of our borders, and to protect our community,” Mr Singh said.

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