19 November 2023, 8:14am
Foreign national charged, 140kg of meth seized and a clan lab dismantled in New South Wales
Editor's Note: Images of the lab and seized methamphetamine is available via Hightail.
The AFP has charged a man from Hong Kong with possessing and manufacturing methamphetamine after more than 140kg of the drug was found in a makeshift laboratory in a Western Sydney apartment block.
The man faced Downing Centre Local Court on 6 November, 2023 and was remanded into custody following his arrest on Friday, 3 November, 2023.
Intelligence shared by the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) Narcotics Bureau alerted AFP investigators to a possible criminal syndicate establishing a clandestine laboratory in Sydney.
Investigators used this intelligence to locate a member of the criminal syndicate in Western Sydney. AFP officers – with the assistance of the NSW Police Force Chemical Operations unit – executed a search warrant at an apartment in Oxley Park on 3 November, 2023.
Police found a clandestine laboratory containing chemicals and paraphernalia involved in the manufacture and extraction of methamphetamine, alongside 142kg of methamphetamine which police will allege had been manufactured in the apartment.
The meth has an estimated street value of $126,000,000, equating to 1,400,000 individual street deals.
Investigators also seized receipts for materials linked to the clandestine laboratory, and a number of electronic devices which will be subject to further forensic examination.
The Hong Kong national was subsequently arrested and charged with:
- Possessing a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to subsection 307.5(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth); and
- Manufacturing commercial quantities of controlled drugs, namely methamphetamine, contrary to subsection 305.3 (1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.
The intelligence provided by HKPF also allowed AFP investigators to establish that this syndicate was linked to the arrest of three men in Hong Kong and a 28-year-old man in Sydney for the attempted importation of 240kg meth concealed in fabric rolls in August 2023.
AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Jeremy Staunton said the AFP's partnerships with international law enforcement agencies were critical in the fight against organised crime.
"The AFP is uniquely-placed to work with our international partners on transnational investigations, where we can stop shipments before they reach Australian shores, or share intelligence that cripples the ability of organised crime groups to operate effectively," Det. A/Supt Staunton added.
"Our commitment with domestic and international law enforcement partners to combat criminal syndicates has seen this specific operation prevent 380kg of methamphetamine from reaching our streets.
"This methamphetamine had the potential to cause significant harm to the Australian community and I'd also like to thank our colleagues from the NSW Police Chemical Ops team who assisted in rendering the makeshift lab safe."
HKPF Superintendent Wilson Tam said the operation is a great example of the results of international co-operation.
"Methamphetamine and illicit drugs cause significant harm to the community, we regularly work with our foreign law enforcement partners to combat these crimes at home and internationally," Superintendent Tam added.
The AFP has officers stationed in 32 countries across the world as part of its International Command, working alongside law enforcement agencies on the ground and sharing intelligence to protect Australians at home.
Note to media
Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information.
- For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
- Access free 24/7 drug and alcohol counselling online.
- For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, visit the Turning Point website.