Pair jailed over multi-million-dollar Adelaide meth import

Two Adelaide men have each been sentenced to 12 years jail today (Friday, 13 August 2021), over a thwarted plot to import 18 kilograms of methamphetamine, worth up to $7 million, hidden in 4WD winches from Malaysia.

The South Australia National Anti-Gangs Squad (NAGS) launched an investigation into one of the men in February 2019, after Australian Border Force officers at Perth Airport examined his phone when he returned from a Bali holiday and found images of cash and what appeared to be illicit drugs.

The NAGS – which comprises Australian Federal Police and South Australia Police officers - identified a suspicious air cargo consignment destined for a business warehouse that the man, then aged 51, rented in Adelaide.

On 5 March 2019, police identified a pallet containing 14 4WD recovery winches that were delivered to the premises.

The 51-year-old's co-accused, a 46-year-old man, was also at the warehouse around the time of the delivery.

A short time later, AFP, South Australia Police (SAPOL) and ABF investigators swooped in to search the premises and question the men.

Police forensic crime scene investigators examined one of the winches during the search at the premises and found approximately 1.3 kilograms of a white crystalline substance that tested positive for methamphetamine.

Items consistent with drug distribution were also found, including a cash counting machine and electronic scales, which had traces of drugs on them.

Police said there was a lack of evidence of legitimate business being done at the warehouse, including no signs of furniture making despite the 51-year-old's claims that it was one of his sources of income.

Examination of all the modified winches resulted in the seizure of 18 kilograms of high-purity methamphetamine, which could have been sold to approximately 180,000 people in street level deals.

Both men were charged with importing a commercial quantity of methamphetamine, and the sentencing Judge believed that the men had a pre-existing agreement to receive the importation on 5 March 2019.

The men pleaded not guilty and, while they were on bail awaiting trial, exchanged text messages discussing their hopes that there was not enough evidence to convict them. They also talked about organising a large importation if they were acquitted.

The 51-year-old man wrote: "If we do get off Bro, we going big so it is worth the risk Bro".

AFP digital forensics experts found the text messages in August 2019 after the 51-year-old was arrested for breach of bail.

The men were both convicted in May 2021 after a trial and were sentenced in the Adelaide District Court today.

The now 53-year-old man has been sentenced to 12 years and five months imprisonment, with a non-parole period of eight years and 11 months.

His accomplice, now aged 48, has been sentenced to serve 12 years and two months, with a non-parole period of eight years and eight months.

Media enquiries:

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  • Australian Border Force Media: (02) 6264 2211

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