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Man sentenced to 18 years for 154kg meth import

18 November 2023, 10:53am
Media Release

Man sentenced to 18 years for 154kg meth import

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

Editor's note: Images available via Hightail.

A Canadian-French dual national has been sentenced to 18-and-a-half years imprisonment for his role in the importation of 154kg of methamphetamine seized in Victoria in 2022 following a multi-agency operation.

The man, 29, was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court to 18 and a half years imprisonment in February 2023, with a non-parole period of 13 years and 6 months, for attempting to import 154kg of methamphetamine from Mexico into Australia.

Court proceedings for this matter ended on Tuesday, 14 November, 2023, when a Sydney man, 37, was found not guilty in the Melbourne County Court this week on charges relating to the attempted possession of the illicit drugs.

The Victorian Joint Organised Crime Task Force (JOCTF) launched Operation Spalford following information from the Indian Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) about a suspicious shipping container arriving into Melbourne from Mexico on January 23, 2022.

Australian Border Force (ABF) members identified a number of anomalies within the consignment at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility on 30 January, 2022.

Further deconstruction identified blocks of a substance that tested positive to methamphetamine hidden inside 19 tonnes of silver concentrate.

Police linked the 29-year-old man to the consignment and arrested him on 22 February, 2022. Investigators also executed search warrants at his home and storage unit, where they seized the substituted packages from the consignment, mobile phones, sim cards, drug paraphernalia and the 12 large 'bulk bags' containing the silver concentrate.

AFP Detective Superintendent Jason McArthur said the AFP, Victoria Police and Australian Border Force – working together under the Victorian JOCTF – had prevented a significant amount of methamphetamine from reaching the Victorian community.

"Operation Spalford investigators identified, tracked and disrupted this criminal syndicate and seized 154kg of dangerous methamphetamine that had the potential to cause undeniable harm to the community," he said.

"The illicit drug supply chain is littered with violence and had this amount of methamphetamine made its way to Australian streets, it could have spread through our suburbs fueling more violence, crime and drug addiction."

Det-Supt McArthur warned transnational serious organised crime syndicates that the AFP and its law enforcement partners remained committed to preventing illicit substances from reaching Australia.

"No matter how innovative or sophisticated these criminals attempt to become, we will continue to track them down and prosecute them to the full extent of the law through the tireless efforts of all of our law enforcement partners," Det-Supt McArthur said.

ABF acting Commander, Maritime and Enforcement South, Dan Peters said methamphetamine shipments were being seized at Australia's border at record levels, and the ABF worked in close collaboration with partner agencies, including the AFP, to combat this criminal behavior.

"Our border is one of our most critical strategic national assets and criminals should know that the ABF will continue to detect, disrupt and dismantle transnational crime syndicates," Acting Commander Peters said.

"While criminals continue to try and cross our border with illicit drugs, our ABF officers will detect them time and time again."

Victoria Police Detective Superintendent David Cowan said the use of methamphetamine across Victoria and Australia continues to have a devastating impact on the community.

"154kg of methamphetamine would have had a disastrous impact on the broader community and could have been lethal to so many people.

"We are glad that Operation Spalford was able to disrupt the syndicate and remove such a large quantity of drugs from our streets.

"Victoria Police, Australian Border Force and Australian Federal Police will continue to detect and disrupt these syndicates, anyone looking to import drugs should know we are watching, we are waiting and we will come for you."

The Joint Organised Crime Task Force (JOCTF) is comprised of investigators from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF), Victoria Police and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).

For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.

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