Newcastle man arrested and 230kg of methamphetamine seized in helical gear drives

This is a joint release between Australian Federal Police, New South Wales Police Force, Australian Border Force and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

Editor’s note: Stills of hidden drugs are available via hightail.

Video of the seizure is available to download.

A 37-year-old year Newcastle man is due to face Sydney Central Local Court today, charged with importing 230kg of methamphetamine following a joint police investigation.

Last month (April 2021), the Australian Federal Police, together with the NSW Police Force Drug and Firearms Squad, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, began an investigation in relation to an Australian company importing helical gear drives.

Two shipments containing helical gear drives from the Republic of Korea were examined at the Australian Border Force Containers Examination Facility in Sydney in May. The first shipment was found to contain 140kg of methamphetamine and the second shipment contained 90kg of methamphetamine. In both shipments, the methamphetamine was concealed within the helical gear drives.

The 230 kilograms of methamphetamine has an estimated street value of approximately $143,750,000.

A 37-year-old Newcastle man was arrested on Saturday (22 May), charged with importing, a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.

The man is due to appear in Sydney Central Local Court via video link today (26 May 2021).

Detective Acting Inspector Luke Wilson said criminals should be aware police are using data analysis to expose companies undertaking illicit activities.

“This operation should send a strong warning to criminals that if you engage in illegal activities, the AFP will catch, arrest and prosecute you,” Detective Acting Inspector Wilson said.

NSW Police Force Drug and Firearms Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent John Watson, said police are actively targeting those involved in drug supply at all levels.

“The efforts of investigators have once again successfully disrupted what could had led to the large-scale supply of prohibited drugs across NSW and which have the potential to destroy lives and communities,” Detective Superintendent Watson said.

ABF Maritime and Detained Goods Superintendent Graeme Campbell says this operation highlights the strong results that can be achieved when Australia’s law enforcement agencies work together.

“This is a clever concealment, with large quantities of dangerous drugs hidden behind a thick layer of steel,” Superintendent Campbell said.

“But the combination of information sharing with our partners, and the ABF’s technical capabilities, ensured these harmful drugs did not end up on Australia’s streets.”

ACIC Executive Director Intelligence Operations, Matt Rippon noted that the ACIC’s most recent National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Report estimated that $6.96 billion was spent on methamphetamine in Australia during the fourth year of the Program.

“The drug is debilitating, it is destroying lives and the fabric of many communities in Australia. Those involved in the illicit drug trade don’t care about the devastation caused through health and social costs, or drug-related crime” Mr Rippon said.

“This operation is a great result by Australian law enforcement. By continuously and relentlessly targeting key players, and collaborating with partners, we can dismantle these criminal networks and are continuing to focus on combating the supply side of the methamphetamine drug market,” he said.

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 at counsellingonline.org.au.
  • For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to turningpoint.org.au.
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