Man returning to Australia after 11 years abroad arrested at Sydney Airport and charged over 2012 drug import
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A man who allegedly imported cocaine and methamphetamine into Australia more than a decade ago is scheduled to face Downing Centre Local Court today (15 March, 2023).
AFP Sydney Airport members arrested the Australian national, 42, on 4 March, 2023, after he arrived into Sydney on a flight from South East Asia, where he is believed to have been living since August 2012.
He has been charged with two drug importation offences.
An arrest warrant was issued for the man in 2013 in relation to Operation Hayman, a joint investigation between the AFP, New South Wales Police Force, Australian Border Force (ABF) and Hong Kong Customs and Excise, which started in February 2012.
The investigation focused on border-controlled drug imports by trusted insiders employed by a commercial airline at Sydney International Airport.
It revealed an airline trusted insider was using his position to access illicit drugs, which were concealed by couriers within panelling on aircraft arriving from Hong Kong.
The trusted insider and two other man have been convicted and sentenced for importing 1kg of cocaine and 5kg of methamphetamine on a flight from Hong Kong to Sydney in July 2012.
The AFP will allege the man arrested earlier this month stored the cocaine and methamphetamine in a safe house in Hong Kong, before working with a courier to transport the drugs to Australia in 2012.
The man allegedly secreted the drugs inside the fuselage of a plane bound for Sydney.
When the plane arrived in Sydney, the trusted insider – one of three men already convicted and sentenced as part of Operation Hayman – removed the concealed drugs and drove them out of the airside secure area to his personal vehicle.
The convicted trusted insider was arrested in the airport carpark.
Investigators also seized $1.6 million in cash during Operation Hayman.
AFP Detective Superintendent Morgen Blunden said time was not on the side of alleged drug importers if they attempted to remain outside of the country to avoid prosecution.
“The AFP is on constant alert for anyone with an outstanding arrest warrant attempting to re-enter the country,” Superintendent Blunden said.
“They might think that we will forget about their alleged crimes if they stay away long enough, but they are wrong.”
NSW Police Force’s Organised Crime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Peter Faux, said the ongoing collaboration between our state and federal law enforcement partners meant people who had allegedly committed serious offences dating back several years ago were on our radar.
“Our detectives and intelligence units will continue to work together on these sorts of cases to ensure those who wish to bring these harmful substances to our shores are held accountable and put before the courts,” Superintendent Faux said.
ABF Superintendent Elvir Tupkovic praised the vigilant work of ABF officers targeting attempted imports of illicit drugs alongside the AFP, NSW Police and other law enforcement partners.
“We know the lengths criminals will go to in their attempts to import harmful drugs into our country,” Superintendent Tupkovic said.
“Our highly trained and experienced ABF officers prove time and time again that they will find drug shipments wherever they are from or however they may be concealed.
“Our message is clear, we are always a step ahead,” he said.
The man, who returned to Australia as a passenger on a commercial flight, has been charged with:
- One count of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
- One count of importing a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to section 307.2(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).
The maximum penalty for the offences is life imprisonment and 25 years’ imprisonment, respectively.
The man faced Parramatta Local Court on Sunday (5 March) and was remanded in custody to re-appear in Downing Centre Local Court today.
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 www.counsellingonline.org.au.
- For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to www.turningpoint.org.au.
- Anyone with information about suspicious border activity or border-related crime the community can report it anytime through Border Watch at borderwatch.gov.au. Information can be provided anonymously.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297