Mexican cartel's meth import plans unravelled in Sydney

Drugs hidden in speakers

Two women are due to face court in Sydney today after a joint agency operation resulted in the seizure of 24 kilograms of methamphetamine imported inside home audio speakers.

On 21 February 2018, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers intercepted an air freight consignment, containing eight home audio speakers at a facility in NSW.

ABF officers conducted an x-ray of the consignment, which showed inconsistences. Further examination revealed a crystalline substance concealed within the speakers. A presumptive test indicated a positive reaction to crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as ice.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers seized the consignment and forensic testing confirmed the total weight of the drugs concealed in the speakers was 24 kilograms. This has a potential estimated street value up to $20.7 million.

The drugs were removed and substituted with an inert substance by AFP forensic specialists, and a controlled delivery was undertaken.

Yesterday (1 March 2018), AFP officers executed search warrants in Rozelle and Marrickville. During the search, a 25-year-old Mexican woman was arrested.

A 25-year-old Australian woman was also arrested for her alleged connection with the investigation.

The women were later charged with:

  • importing of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to Section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995; and
  • attempting to possess of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to Section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 by virtue of Section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.

The operation has involved collaboration between the AFP, ABF, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

AFP Commander Justine Gough, Manager Crime Operations, said the details uncovered in the investigation suggest this was a highly organised importation attempt.

“We continue to see overseas drug networks trying to target Australia, because they know there is a high demand in our country and unfortunately, users are willing to pay the price,” Commander Gough said.

“This coordinated, multi-agency investigation has helped us to have great disruptive effect and save 240,000 hits of ice from reaching Sydney’s streets.”

ABF Superintendent Aviation Goods Brett Totten said the ABF believes the syndicate specifically chose this commodity in which to conceal the narcotics.

“During the examination ABF Officers located a plastic box that was wrapped in carbon paper and a layer of silver foil within the audio speakers in what was a deliberate attempt to defeat x-ray technology. The plastic box was found to contain a white crystalline substance which tested positive for methamphetamine.

“This detection illustrates that no matter how sophisticated the concealment is, or what lengths criminal syndicates will go to in order to defeat our technology or circumvent our controls, the Australian Border Force is at the border ready to intervene and stop any attempt to smuggle drugs into our community,” Superintendent Totten said.

The success of this operation demonstrates the collaborative efforts and expertise across the new Home Affairs Portfolio, and the continuing cooperation with our state counterparts.

The importation offence has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The women were expected to appear before the Sydney Central Local Court today (Friday, 2 March).

Media enquiries:
AFP National Media: (02) 6131 6333

ABF Media: (02) 6264 2244

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