Trio jailed over 180kg drug import

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Three criminal syndicate members who imported illicit drugs worth more than $135 million dollars into Australia have been jailed, following a major AFP investigation.

The men pleaded guilty to their various roles in importing 180 kilograms of methamphetamine into Sydney from Malaysia in September 2020, and were sentenced in the Parramatta Local Court this month (October) to jail terms of between seven and 10 years.

AFP Detectives launched an investigation – Operation Caerus-Braint-West - into the Sydney-based organised crime group in 2020, after it was suspected the syndicate was planning to use air cargo to import illicit drugs into New South Wales.

On 15 September 2020 officers found 180kg of methamphetamine hidden in a shipment of refrigerated air driers after its arrival into Sydney.

The next day (16 September, 2020), AFP officers from Sydney arrested a Chipping Norton man.

Detectives executed a search warrant at the home of the man, then aged 28, seizing around $300,000 in cash, mobile phones, encrypted devices and fake identity documents, along with documents linked to the illicit drug consignment hidden under a bed.

After examining seized evidence, Detectives arrested and charged another two men in November, 2020 - a Gregory Hills man, then aged 20 and a Chester Hill man, then aged 25.

During the search warrants officers seized a dozen AN0M devices, encrypted phones, firearms, ammunition, a ballistic vest, along with a small amount cannabis and MDMA.

The group faced the Parramatta Local Court in relation to their alleged roles in the enterprise, with all three members of the syndicate successfully convicted.

AFP Detective acting Inspector Sarah Fullerton said the case should serve as a warning to drug trafficking syndicates that the AFP was working hard to stop them from profiting at the community’s expense.

“Despite efforts by criminal networks to evade detection, the AFP has the ability to disrupt their trafficking plans,” Detective a/Inspector Fullerton said.

“This amount of methamphetamine would have amounted to 1.8 million street level deals."

“Not only has the AFP stopped this drug from causing immense harm in the community, this investigation stopped about $135 million in potential profits going into the pockets of criminals and used to fund future drug importations.”

The Gregory Hills man, now 22, was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for the following offences:

  • Aid and abet the importation of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
  • Two counts of possessing a prohibited firearm, contrary to section 7(1) of the Firearms Act 1966 (NSW).

The Chester Hill man, now 27, was sentenced to seven years and six months’ imprisonment for:

  • Attempt to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, contrary to section 307.5(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The Chipping Norton man, now 30, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for:

  • Aid and abet the importation of border controlled drugs, contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

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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