Media Release: Three arrested for importing more than 200kgs of methamphetamine in truck tyres

Release Date: Friday, October 11 2013, 10:00 AM

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

A multi-agency taskforce has seized more than 200kgs of methamphetamine concealed in truck tyres, and arrested three men following an operation in Melbourne this week.

The methamphetamine has an estimated potential street value of up to $200 million. Further forensic testing will be undertaken to determine exact weight and purity.

This is one of the largest multi-agency operations involving joint waterfront taskforces in Brisbane (Jericho), Sydney (Polaris) and Melbourne (Trident), as well as the Sydney-based Joint Organised Crime Group and the Melbourne-based Joint Organised Crime Taskforce.

The operation began on 13 September when the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) identified a consignment arriving into Australia consisting of a medium sized truck destined for Melbourne.

Further examination revealed a number of packages containing a crystalline substance concealed in the tyres of the truck. Initial testing determined the substance to be methamphetamine.

The matter was referred to the two joint taskforces in Melbourne and Sydney and a controlled operation commenced.

On 1 October, the consignment arrived in the port of Melbourne and was collected by a 59-year-old Altona Meadows man. The consignment was then delivered to a factory in Brooklyn on 3 October.

On 9 October officers from the Joint Organised Crime Taskforce executed seven search warrants in Altona Meadows, Brooklyn, Point Cook and Hoppers Crossing. A 59-year-old Altona Meadows man, a 29-year-old Point Cook man and a 25-year-old Point Cook man were subsequently arrested.

An eighth search warrant was executed at a factory in Laverton yesterday (10 October).

Items seized from search warrants included $80,000 in cash, hard drives and mobile phones.

Police will allege the 59-year-old Altona Meadows man and the 29-year-old Point Cook man were recently employed as dock workers in Melbourne.

AFP Manager Melbourne Office Commander Scott Lee said this operation shows Australian law enforcement agencies are more united than ever in the fight against organised crime.

"Australian agencies are setting a benchmark for law enforcement cooperation. Through our combined commitment to combatting this crime type, we are working across jurisdictions and borders to deal significant blows to crime syndicates," Commander Lee said.

ACBPS Regional Director Victoria Graham Krisohos said this significant detection demonstrates the commitment of Australian law enforcement agencies to protecting the Australian community.

"No matter how sophisticated the concealment, Customs and Border Protection and our law enforcement partners have the technology and intelligence to stop these dangerous drugs at the border," Mr Krisohos said.

Victoria Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Steve Fontana said this operation was another example of the great joint agency partnership.

"Operations like this show just how effective we can be in detecting and disrupting organised crime in this country when we work together and share our knowledge and expertise," Acting Deputy Commissioner Fontana said.

ACC Victoria State Manager Jonathan Nicholl said that this outcome demonstrates the strength of collaborated law enforcement in Australia.

"Australian law enforcement is a formidable force in Australia and with this united effort we have sent a strong message to organised criminals."

The AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce, which includes members of the ACC and the Australian Taxation Office, will proceed with asset seizure.

Summary of charges:

A 59-year-old Altona Meadows man and a 29-year-old Point Cook man were charged with:

  • Importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to section  307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
  • Attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully imported, contrary to section 307.8(1) and 11.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

A 25-year-old Point Cook man was charged with:

  • Attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully imported, contrary to section 307.8(1) and 11.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

These offences carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The men appeared before Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday 9 October and are next scheduled to appear on 29 January 2014.

Taskforce information:

The Melbourne-based Joint Organised Crime Taskforce consists of Victoria Police, ACBPS, AFP and the Australian Crime Commission.

The Sydney-based Joint Organised Crime Group consists of NSW Police, NSW Crime Commission, ACPBS, AFP and the Australian Crime Commission.

The Jericho Taskforce includes the AFP, ACBPS, Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Taxation Office, Queensland Police Service and AUSTRAC.

The Polaris Taskforce includes the AFP, NSW Police Force, ACBPS, Australian Crime Commission and the NSW Crime Commission.

The Trident Taskforce includes the AFP, ACBPS, Victoria Police, Australian Crime Commission, Australian Tax Office and AUSTRAC.

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media                                      (02) 6131 6333

ACBPS Media                                               (02) 6275 6793

Victoria Police Media                                    (03) 9247 5205

Australian Crime Commission Media           (02) 6243 6843