More than one tonne of MDMA seized, five people charged

MDMA seized by authorities

More than one tonne of MDMA has been seized and five people charged in relation to its importation and intended distribution, following a joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF) and NSW Police Force.

Three men were arrested in Sydney yesterday, while another two were arrested last Friday. The men arrested yesterday are scheduled to appear before Sydney Central Local court this morning to face a range of criminal charges.

The MDMA was seized after ABF officers detected anomalies within a shipping container that arrived from South Korea on 11 January 2020.

An examination by the ABF found a number of pallets laden with 648 plastic tubs labeled as tile adhesive. Within 176 tubs of adhesive were bags of a powder that presumptively tested positive to the presence of MDMA. Each tub contained approximately six kilograms of MDMA powder. The total weight of the substance seized from the shipment was 1,053kg.

AFP Eastern Command commenced a joint investigation with ABF, receiving significant assistance from the Organised Crime Squad of the NSW Police Force’s State Crime Command. Enquiries identified the shipment was to be delivered to a storage facility in the inner Sydney suburb of Camperdown.

AFP officers began a controlled delivery operation, starting with the substitution of the MDMA powder with an inert substance. The container was delivered to Camperdown on 29 January 2020, where a 27-year-old Canadian national took delivery and unpacked the consignment from the container.

It was identified that the man was staying at a rented premises in the western Sydney suburb of Rooty Hill. On 5 February 2020, the man met with another 27-year-old Canadian national in the Sydney CBD, before both travelled back to Rooty Hill. The second Canadian man had arrived in Sydney on 4 February 2020.

It will be alleged in court that over the next month, both men periodically travelled into Camperdown to extract portions of the substituted powder from the consignment and prepare it for further distribution to Australian-based customers.

Investigators collected evidence of multiple meetings and alleged handovers of the substituted MDMA between the two Canadian men and a 29-year-old from Hong Kong who resided in Kingsford. It will be alleged in court that this Hong Kong man was responsible for distributing the shipment to other people in Sydney for eventual sale on Australian streets.

On Friday, 28 February 2020, members of the AFP – assisted by ABF and NSW Police Force members – executed search warrants in the Sydney suburbs of Carlingford, Wentworth Point, Cabramatta West, and Cabramatta, targeting the alleged recipients of the substituted MDMA from the shipment.

At the Cabramatta West and Cabramatta addresses, police located and seized substances suspected to be MDMA, cocaine and approximately three kilograms of methamphetamine. Police also seized an estimated $250,000 in cash, two loaded firearms – including an automatic shotgun with a drum magazine and a Browning 9mm semi-automatic pistol – false identification material and ammunition.

At the Carlingford and Wentworth Point addresses, police seized material alleged to be substituted MDMA removed from the original shipment, other drugs including MDMA and cocaine, electronic devices, and ammunition.

A 22-year-old man from Cabramatta West and a 26-year-old Carlingford man were each charged with drug offences, while other charges related to suspected proceeds of crime and the possession of firearms and ammunition were laid regarding what was found at the locations connected to each man.

On Tuesday 3 March 2020, members of the AFP, assisted by ABF and NSW Police Force members, executed search warrants at Rooty Hill and Kingsford.

The two Canadian nationals were arrested at the Rooty Hill premises, where police located and seized approximately 110 tubs from the consignment, electronic devices and packaging materials.

The 29-year-old Hong Kong man was arrested in Malabar, with a later search of his Kingsford premises resulting in police seizing a quantity of the MDMA substitute material.

A 25-year-old Hong Kong man was found to be also residing at the same Kingsford address. He was released pending further enquiries into his possible links to those involved in this syndicate.

AFP A/g Assistant Commissioner Eastern Command Justine Gough said the AFP and its domestic law enforcement partners are determined to reduce the significant harm these illegal drugs and weapons can cause to the Australian community.

“This seizure is one of the largest in Australian history and the MDMA powder, if pressed into tablets, could have produced more than three million tablets – it demonstrates the lengths that organised crime syndicates will go to in order to supply the Australia market, and seek to protect their criminal profits with high-powered illegal weapons,” A/g Assistant Commissioner Gough said.

“The AFP is working closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Korean authorities and other offshore partners to identify the source of the MDMA and those responsible for directing this activity and shipping this destructive drug into Australia.”

Australian Border Force Acting Commander Investigations Garry Low says this shipment was targeted by the ABF as a result of intelligence from the Department of Home Affairs, demonstrating that our officers are smarter than the criminal syndicates behind these importations.

“ABF officers have sophisticated technology and unique skills at their disposal, which gives them the ability to identify illegal substances no matter how they are concealed,” Acting Commander Low said.

“This detection is the second biggest MDMA seizure in Sydney. Every day, ABF officers go to work determined to protect Australia from these harmful substances and cases like these show their hard work and dedication pays off.”

NSW Police Force State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said the results of joint investigations have disrupted the activities of an international criminal syndicate.

“Just this week, we highlighted the work of the Organised Crime Squad working with our law enforcement partners to seize hundreds of kilos of prohibited drugs destined for the streets of NSW,” Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

“NSW Police will continue working closely with our partners – within NSW and offshore – to ensure we reduce the harm of organised crime in the community and cut off the profits of professional facilitators of crime.”

The two Canadian nationals were each charged with one count of importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely MDMA, contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), and one count of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely MDMA, contrary to section 307.5(1) by virtue of section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for both offences is life imprisonment.

The 29-year-old Hong Kong man was charged with two counts of attempt trafficking in a commercial quantity of a controlled drug, namely MDMA, contrary to section 302.2(1) by virtue of section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth), and one count of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely MDMA, contrary to section 307.5(1) by virtue of section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for these offence is life imprisonment.

The Canadian and Hong Kong men are scheduled to face Sydney Central Local Court this morning.

A 22-year-old Cabramatta West man was arrested and charged with:

  • Deal in money or property suspected of being the proceeds of crime, contrary to section 400.9(1A) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
  • Two counts of possess Large Commercial Quantity of Prohibited Drug, contrary to section 10(1) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW)
  • Possess Commercial Quantity of Prohibited Drug, contrary to section 10(1) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW)
  • Two counts of supply Large Commercial Quantity of Prohibited Drug, contrary to section 25(2) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW)
  • Supply Commercial Quantity of Prohibited Drug, contrary to section 25(2) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW)
  • Two counts of possess prohibited firearm not authorised to possess, contrary to section 7(1) of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW)
  • Possession of ammunition without holding a licence or permit, contrary to section 65(3) of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW).

A 26-year-old Carlingford man was arrested and charged with:

  • Two counts of trafficking in a commercial quantity of a controlled drug, namely MDMA, contrary to section 302.2(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)
  • Possess Prohibited Drug, contrary to section 10(1) of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW)
  • Possession of ammunition without holding a licence or permit, contrary to section 65(3) of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW).

The Carlingford and Cabramatta West men appeared in Parramatta Local Court on Saturday, where they were remanded in custody. The Carlingford man is scheduled to reappear in Burwood Local Court on 12 May 2020, while the Cabramatta West man is set to reappear on 24 April 2020 in Fairfield Local Court.

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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