17 January 2024, 12:24pm
Seventh person arrested over black flight meth importation
This is a joint media release by the Australian Federal Police, New South Wales Police Force, Queensland Police Service, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.
Editor’s note: Arrest vision, photos and audio grabs are available via Hightail.
A Brisbane woman was charged yesterday with allegedly facilitating a black flight loaded with 71.5kg of methamphetamine from Papua New Guinea to Australia in March 2023.
The woman, 41, appeared before Brisbane Magistrates Court today (17 January, 2024) and was refused bail. Her next court appearance is scheduled for 1 March, 2024 in Brisbane Magistrates Court.
This follows the arrest of six men in Australia and eight people in PNG last March who are alleged to be members of a transnational organised crime syndicate.
The arrests occurred after authorities intercepted the flight when it landed in rural Queensland to re-fuel after travelling from Bulolo, PNG. It is alleged the aircraft, which concealed five duffle bags of methamphetamine, was destined for NSW.
Police executed a search warrant on the woman’s Brisbane property in March 2023 after the arrests. Enquiries revealed the methamphetamine had been stored in a commercial premises operated by the woman in PNG prior to the flight.
The AFP will allege the woman, who is the owner and director of a logistics company in PNG, actively facilitated the drug importation. This includes allegedly storing the methamphetamine prior to the importation, buying bags for its transportation, and paying for the fuel and runway in Bulolo used for the black flight.
AFP officers executed a search warrant at the woman’s Rochedale home on 16 January, 2024, with officers seizing electronic devices and financial records.
The woman was subsequently arrested and charged with:
- One count of importing a commercial quantity of methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
- One count of dealing with proceeds of crime, money or property worth $10,000 or more, contrary to section 400.6 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
AFP Commander Investigations Eastern Command Kate Ferry said the arrest was a testament to the diligent and relentless work of the AFP and its partners.
“Criminals will go to great, and often dangerous, lengths to get drugs into Australia, and this matter is an example of that. This investigation is also an example of how the AFP will continue to pursue organised crime groups no matter what state or country they operate in, or how long it takes,” Commander Ferry said.
“Methamphetamine is an insidious drug that has ripple effects on the user, their loved ones and the wider community. This importation had an estimated street value of more than $15 million.”
Investigations into how the drugs entered PNG remain ongoing.
The AFP-led joint investigation, codenamed Operation Gepard, involved members from NSW Police Force, Queensland Police Services, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, and the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.
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, go to the Turning Point website.