Multi-agency investigation seizes 766kg of MDMA in targeted drug operation

The Queensland Police Service has led a major multi-agency investigation into an international organised crime syndicate linked to the distribution of large quantities of high purity drugs.

Following a complex investigation police have seized 766kg of MDMA powder in one of Queensland and Australia’s most significant drug seizures. As part of this operation and as a result of cross-agency international collaboration, 200kg of methamphetamine (ice) was also seized by police in New Zealand last week.

Yesterday police conducted searches in Loganlea and in northern New South Wales with assistance from the New South Wales Police Force Drug and Firearm Squad. These warrants form part of the broader investigation into the international organised crime syndicate and resulted in the seizure of a number of vehicles connected to the operation, approximately $108,000 in cash and a quantity of drugs.

As part of this operation a number of persons were arrested in Queensland and New Zealand. In Queensland two UK citizens, a 51-year-old man and 40-year-old man, have been charged with drug possession and drug supply and are in custody. A 26-year-old Logan based man has been charged with possession and supply of dangerous drugs whilst being a participant in a criminal organisation under the Queensland Serious and Organised Crime Legislation.

New Zealand police additionally charged a 60-year-old man and a 49-year-old man, both UK citizens, with charges relating to the seizure of 200kg of methamphetamine. A 51-year-old woman was arrested at Lennox Head and has been charged in New South Wales in connection with the money located.

The QPS State Crime Command Drug and Serious Crime Group has issued an arrest warrant for a 42-year-old man from New South Wales in connection to this investigation.

The MDMA powder is the highest purity recorded in Queensland. Police believe the powder was destined for production into pill and capsule form to be sold across Australia.

“We believe the drug would have been diluted with other agents and had the potential to make between six and 12 million capsules. This has a conservative value of $90 million. Organised crime syndicates are making significant profit at the expense of our Australian community but
more importantly they are placing our young people’s health at risk,” Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker of the State Crime Command’s Drug and Serious Crime Group said.

“This operation has been focused on targeting and dismantling this organised syndicate and is a culmination of the cooperative efforts of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, New South Wales Police Force, Australian Federal Police, New Zealand Police National Organised Crime Group, Australian Border Force, the Department of Home Affairs Intelligence Division and the UK National Crime Agency.”

Acting Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) State Manager Queensland Operations Dr Katie Willis said this investigation is just another example of ACIC working with partner agencies to ensure harmful drugs don’t make their way into the community.

“According to our latest National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program data, it is estimated over 1.1 tonnes of MDMA is consumed nationally each year, 223kg in Queensland alone. Removing 766kg of MDMA before it reaches our streets will have an immeasurable impact on the illicit MDMA market,” Dr Willis said.

AFP Commander Jamie Strauss, State Manager Queensland, said the AFP is committed to working with partner agencies to combat the scourge of organised crime.

“Law enforcement cannot go it alone to combat organised crime – we get our best results when we work together and use our varied resources and skills to target criminal groups. The AFP will always work with partner agencies to bring to account those who seek to profit off the misery that drug trafficking inflicts on the community,” he said.

For free and confidential advice on alcohol and other drug treatment services, call the national alcohol and other drug hotline on 1800 250 015.

Media enquiries:
Queensland police media: (07) 3015 2444
AFP National Media: (02) 5126 9297

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