Drug importation syndicate smashed, drugs worth $200 million seized

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Western Australia Police, Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.   

A Western Australia Joint Organised Crime Task Force operation has resulted in drug importation charges being laid against 14 people and the seizure of approximately 200 kilograms of methamphetamine worth approximately $200 million.

The operation commenced on the 27th of April following the detection by Australian Border Force of a suspect commercial fishing boat off the Western Australia coast near Geraldton.

Subsequent investigations led officers to a number of locations across Perth. Search warrants executed at an address in East Cannington saw approximately 150 kilograms of methylamphetamine seized while additional warrant activity at an Embleton house resulted in approximately 50 kilograms of methylamphetamine seized.

This is the biggest methylamphetamine seizure in Western Australian this year, and the biggest since the seizure of more than 320 kilograms of methylamphetamine in September 2015.

It will be alleged in court that the people charged today were part of an organized criminal syndicate that facilitated the transport of the drugs from the fishing boat to Western Australia via small watercraft.

Six Malaysian nationals aged between 24 and 54-years-old and eight Chinese nationals aged between 37 and 56-years-old have been charged with commercial drug importation offences. The eight Chinese nationals were the crew of the commercial fishing boat. 

Australian Federal Police acting Assistant Commissioner David Stewart said this result is a testament to the dedication and tenacity of the five partners in the taskforce.

“Since its establishment in April 2015, the WA JOCTF has now charged 43 people with drug and other offences. And with this most recent seizure, more than 275 kilograms of illicit substances have been removed from Perth’s and Australia’s streets.”

“The globalisation of crime has become so complex that the law enforcement response requires a high degree of sophistication and collaboration in order to combat transnational crime networks. Leveraging the capability of each agency is a powerful force multiply that delivers a significant impact on these criminal enterprises and protects Australians from harm,” acting Assistant Commissioner Stewart said.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Dreibergs said this quantity of methylamphetamine could cause immense harm in Western Australia as it equated to more than two million individual hits.

“It is the job of WA Police and its partner agencies to tackle the supply of this highly addictive drug in our community,” Deputy Commissioner Dreibergs said.

“The criminal syndicates that profit from the misery caused by ‘ice’ are firmly in our sights. We have achieved unprecedented success targeting the supply of this drug through strong relationships with our law enforcement partners combined with our local reach.”

Australian Border Force Regional Commander WA Rod O’Donnell said during the operation, in addition to the ABF’s embedded officers at the JOCTF, its assets played a crucial role in providing surveillance of the vessel as it moved down the Western Australian coastline.

“This once again demonstrates the ABF’s significant maritime capability and presence in our northern waters, and the crucial role the ABF plays in preventing criminal syndicates from using our maritime borders to import drugs into Australia,” Commander O’Donnell said.

Australian Crime Commission CEO Chris Dawson said this 200 kilograms seizure could have resulted in approximately two million street deals of methylamphetamine with an estimated street value of $200 million.

“The Australian Crime Commission has assessed that methylamphetamine poses—by far—the greatest threat to the Australian public of all illicit drug types, and by a significant margin,” Mr Dawson said.

“These shipments of illicit drugs would have devastated countless individuals, families and communities.”

Peter Clark, Deputy CEO of Australia’s financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC, said his organisation is working closely with partners in law enforcement to disrupt and dismantle criminal syndicates.

 “We are committed to tracking the money trail of these criminal networks that pose a threat to our national security and our economy,” Mr Clark said.

The WA JOCTF is a team of specialists from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Western Australia Police (WAPOL), Australian Crime Commission (ACC), Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.

Media enquiries:
ABF (02) 6264 2244
AFP National (02) 6131 6333
WA Police (08) 9222 1011
Australian Crime Commission (02) 6243 6843
AUSTRAC (02) 9950 0449

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