Joint international operation seizes 240kg of meth destined for Australia
Editor’s note: Images and audio grabs from Detective Acting Superintendent Jeremy Staunton are available via hightail.
A Sydney man has been arrested for his role in facilitating a 240kg shipment of methamphetamine destined for Australia seized by Hong Kong authorities in a joint investigation with the AFP and Australian Border Force (ABF).
Three men, aged 44, 46 and 71, were arrested in Hong Kong for their suspected involvement in the venture. They have been released by Hong Kong authorities, pending further enquiries.
The Hong Kong Customs and Excise (HKCE) agency seized the methamphetamine on 12 July 2023 after finding it hidden in large rolls of fabric in a consignment slated for export.
Investigations by the HKCE found the consignment was destined for Sydney. The HKCE consulted AFP and ABF liaison officers based in Hong Kong, and a joint investigation began.
The HKCE substituted the methamphetamine with an inert substance, and allowed the shipment to progress to Australia.
The container and its contents arrived in Australia via sea cargo on 12 August 2023 and after being processed through the ABF’s Container Examination Facility. It was sent onto an address in the western Sydney suburb of Silverwater in a controlled delivery on Wednesday 23 August, 2023.
Police will allege four men were observed unpacking the container before AFP officers entered the premises to execute a search warrant.
A Sydney man, 28 was arrested for his alleged role in coordinating the importation of the consignment, renting the Silverwater delivery address and organising for it to be unpacked.
The other three men were released pending further enquiries.
AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Jeremy Staunton said this investigation showed how international partnerships developed by the AFP through decades of collaborative work could have tangible benefits for the Australian community.
“This methamphetamine had the potential to cause significant harm to the Australian community; to users, their friends and family and frontline health and support workers who have to deal with the fallout of people using this insidious drug,” he said.
“The AFP is uniquely placed to work with our international partners on transnational investigations, where we can stop shipments like this from reaching Australia and arresting people involved at multiple points of the supply chain, crippling the ability of organised crime groups to operate.”
ABF Superintendent Elke West said Australia remained a lucrative destination for illicit drugs and while detections at the border have increased, taking the fight offshore with like-minded international partners was an important strategy.
“We are delivering a series of coordinated strikes on organised crime syndicates at a global level and this detection demonstrates how effective this can be,” Supt West said.
“The ABF will continue to work hand in glove with our law enforcement partners in Australia and globally to ensure methamphetamine, and other illicit drugs, do not cross our border and cause harm in our community.
“The Australian border is, and will continue to be, a hostile operating environment for criminals.”
AFP investigators seized a number of items during the search warrant, including:
- A mobile phone,
- A small quantity of marijuana and cocaine,
- Recently purchased suitcases and a
- New flatbed scale.
The man is expected to face Downing Centre Local Court on 1 November 2023 charged with:
- Import a substance, the substance being a border control drug, namely methamphetamine, and the quantity imported being a commercial quantity, by virtue of section 11.1(1), contrary to subsection 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth); and
- Attempt to possess a substance, the substance having been unlawfully imported, the substance being a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, and the quantity possessed being a commercial quantity, by virtue of section 11.1(1), contrary to subsection 307.5(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth).
The maximum penalty for both offences is life imprisonment.
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.
Inquiries into the criminal syndicate responsible for the consignment remain ongoing both within Australia and internationally.
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 at counsellingonline.org.au.
- For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to turningpoint.org.au.
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