Media Release: Drugs worth $180 million found in kayaks, five people arrested

Release Date: Wednesday, February 12 2014, 09:33 AM

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

A joint Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) operation has stopped approximately 183 kilograms of methamphetamine from entering Australia.

These drugs have an estimated street value of approximately $180 million.

A total of five people were arrested yesterday (11 February) following the execution of four search warrants in the Sydney suburbs of Hillsdale, Kensington, Greenwich and the Sydney CBD.

The operation began on 5 February when ACBPS officers at the Sydney Container Examination Facility selected a container from China for x-ray inspection. This inspection revealed anomalies with the consignment of 27 sea kayaks.

The examination revealed 19 of the 27 kayaks contained packages of a white crystallised substance.  Initial testing of the substance returned a positive reading for methamphetamine.

The matter was then referred to the AFP for further investigation.

The AFP, with assistance from the ACBPS, conducted a controlled delivery of the container to a storage facility in Hillsdale yesterday. The AFP subsequently arrested three men and one woman – all Taiwanese nationals – after they allegedly accessed the kayaks to retrieve the concealed substance.

Further investigations resulted in the arrest of 32-year-old man at his Kensington residence. It will be alleged in court that this man was involved in the facilitation of this importation.

ACBPS Regional Director NSW, Tim Fitzgerald, said the arrests are a combined effort by ACBPS and the AFP.

“No matter the concealment, Customs and Border Protection has the technologies and systems to identify attempts to breach the border,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“By working with the Australian Federal Police, we have again stopped criminals seeking to damage our communities.”

AFP Manager Sydney Office Ray Johnson said this seizure is another example of collaborative efforts of law enforcement.

“This is a great example of authorities working together to identify and disrupt criminals who are seeking to import drugs into Australia,” Commander Johnson said.

“The AFP and its partner agencies will continue to stop these harmful drugs from reaching our streets and affecting our neighbourhoods and communities.”

The AFP through its International Network is liaising with its law enforcement partners in China and Taiwan as part of ongoing investigations into this matter.

Summary of charges:

• The 32 year-old Kensington man and a 28-year-old Taiwanese woman were each charged with one count of attempt to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to section 307.1, by virtue of section 11.1, of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

• Three male Taiwanese nationals – aged 35, 30 and 21 – were each charged with one count of possessing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to section 307.5, by virtue of section 11.1, of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

All five people are scheduled to appear in Sydney Central Local Court today (12 February 2014).

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.

Footage is available at http://newsroom.customs.gov.au/releases/c6b6d870-0338-43df-8add-bfb012aaf939/videos/drugs-worth-180-million-found-in-kayaks-five-people-arrested

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media (02) 6131 6333

ACBPS Media (02) 6275 6793