Media Release: Melbourne drug ring dismantled

Release Date: Thursday, February 18 2016, 08:43 AM

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force.

Four men have been arrested and close to 15 kilograms of methamphetamine seized during a three-month investigation to destroy a drug syndicate operating in Melbourne.

Operation Conure began on November 24, 2015 when Australian Border Force (ABF) officers intercepted a consignment destined for Broadmeadows, Victoria. The shipment contained ceramic horse statues, allegedly filled with 10.9 kilograms of methamphetamine.

The matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for further investigation. On December 1, 2015 a controlled delivery was conducted and three persons of interest were identified by police.

After further enquiries, AFP officers identified a fourth person of interest, a 30-year-old Sierra Leone man – who is alleged to be the organiser of the importation in the horse statues.

Police also uncovered alleged links between this person and a 2.4 kilogram methamphetamine importation in November 2015.

It will be alleged that these four men were operating a drug syndicate and can be linked to other methamphetamine seizures in the Melbourne area, including a further 1.5 kilogram methamphetamine seizure last year.

Acting on this information, the AFP conducted four search warrants yesterday (17 February 2016) across Melbourne.

The 30-year-old Sierra Leone man was arrested in Truganina; a 28-year-old Liberian man was arrested in Wyndham North; a 26-year-old Liberian man was arrested in St Albans and a 21-year-old Australian national was arrested in Sunshine.

All four men have been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine,  contrary to subsection 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth); and attempting to possess an unlawfully imported substance contrary to subsection 11.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

The 30-year-old man appeared before Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday; while the other three men are scheduled to appear before the same court today.

AFP Superintendent Matt Warren, Coordinator of Crime Operations Victoria, said today’s arrests have effectively shut down a sophisticated drug ring.

“We will allege this group of men attempted to use scatter methods to import drugs into Victoria,” Superintendent Warren said.
“These arrests are particularly significant given we have managed to charge the alleged organiser of this drug syndicate, which will stop countless more attempts to import this horrendous drug.”

ABF Superintendent Michael Lewis, Maritime Operations, said the amount of harm these drugs could have caused the community cannot be understated.

“This operation is another example of the excellent work our officers undertake every day. We are very pleased with the results of the operation and are confident our efforts have significantly reduced the amount of drugs being supplied here in Melbourne,” Superintendent Lewis said.

The maximum penalty for commonwealth importation offences is life imprisonment.

Note: Footage is available on request from the AFP National Media team.

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