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16 April 2021, 7:13am
Media Release

Man charged after seizure of 34kgs of drugs from Melbourne ‘safe house’

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

Editor’s note: Arrest vision and drug images available via Hightail.

Joint Taskforce Icarus members yesterday (15 April 2021) arrested and charged a 35-year-old Melbourne man, in connection to the seizure of 34 kilograms of illicit drugs from an alleged ‘safe house’ at Docklands in January 2021.

Investigators arrested the Malaysian national at his Melbourne city apartment yesterday morning. He is the fourth person charged with serious drug offences as a result of the joint taskforce investigation, codenamed Operation Trento.

On January 22, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria Police officers seized 13.3 kilograms of methamphetamine and 20.8 kilograms of the border controlled precursor methyl alpha-phenylacetoacetate (MAPA) from a Docklands apartment.

It will be alleged in court the Docklands apartment had been leased by a criminal syndicate exclusively to store imported drug consignments.

The methamphetamine seized by detectives in January has an estimated street value of $8.3 million dollars. Police will allege the MAPA chemicals are used to create methamphetamine.

Operation Trento commenced in October 2020, after authorities intercepted a separate shipment of almost eight kilograms of methamphetamine imported into Victoria. This amount of methamphetamine has an estimated street value of $5 million dollars.

The methamphetamine was hidden inside water filters and was detected by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers, before the investigation was referred to Joint Taskforce Icarus.

Three Malaysian nationals have already been charged with drug importation offences in relation to Operation Trento, and remain in custody while the matters progress through the courts. Police have also seized approximately $153,000 from the alleged criminal syndicate during the operation.

The 35-year-old man arrested yesterday has been charged with:

  • Trafficking commercial quantities of controlled drugs, contrary to Section 302.2(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); 
  • Possessing commercial quantities of border controlled drugs, namely methamphetamine, reasonably suspected of being unlawfully imported, contrary to section 307.8(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • Pre-trafficking commercial quantities of controlled precursors, contrary to Section 306.2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.

The man was expected to face the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

AFP Commander Investigations Todd Hunter said Joint Taskforce Icarus was an excellent example of the collaborative efforts of Commonwealth and state law enforcement agencies to tackle criminal syndicates attempting to import harmful illicit substances into our communities.

“The AFP, together with our Commonwealth, state and international partners remain committed to identifying, dismantling and prosecuting these criminal syndicates. Today’s arrest shows yet again that we remain one step ahead of these illicit organised criminal groups,” he said.

“We know that for approximately every kilogram of methamphetamine sold on the streets, a person requires emergency treatment. And sadly there is a death of someone in our community for approximately every twenty-six kilograms of methamphetamine used. We are determined to prevent this serious harm to the Australian community.”

Victoria Police Detective Inspector Craig Darlow said this result is fantastic for both police and the Victorian community. “We see daily the harm that these imported drugs bring – not just the physical and health impacts on users, but the negative flow on effects to the broader community through other crimes,” he said. “This result highlights the work across all law enforcement agencies to hold these people accountable for their criminal actions and that police will actively work to disrupt the activities of those willing to bring drugs into Victoria.”

Joint Taskforce Icarus comprises members of the AFP, Victoria Police and ABF and investigates high-volume drug importation and trafficking offences in the Victorian jurisdiction.

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.

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