Trusted insider charged with importing drugs through postal service

This is a joint Media Release from the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force

MEDIA NOTE: Footage and arrest vison in Hightail.

A subcontractor to Australia's postal service has been charged with drug offences after allegedly using his position to facilitate the importation of methamphetamine into NSW.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) began investigating the matter in October 2020 after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers detected an illicit substance inside a consignment of 210 nicotine vape bottles flown into Sydney, with a total weight of 18.5 kilograms.

Forensic testing confirmed the nicotine vials returned a positive result for methamphetamine. The total estimated amount of liquid methamphetamine was approximately 12.6 litres.

Authorities worked to identify and recover a second identical package which had been delivered into NSW. This second consignment was allegedly tampered with by a 35-year-old postal subcontractor who police allege removed an estimated 60% of its contents before returning it to authorities.

An investigation – codenamed Operation Centinel-Albina – resulted in the AFP executing search warrants in December 2020 at the 35-year-old man's residence in Parramatta.

During the warrants, police seized mobile phones and a number of 'burner SIM card holders' related to the offending.

It will be alleged the Parramatta man was involved in the drug trade, using his role as a postal subcontractor to access the parcel which he allegedly knew contained narcotics, and remove them during his delivery route.

On 28 January 2021, the man was charged with:

  • Two counts of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
  • One count of possessing a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine contrary to section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)
  • One count of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine contrary to section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth)

The man did not apply for bail and will next appear before Sydney's Central Local court on Thursday 4th of February, 2021. If convicted he faces life imprisonment.

AFP Commander of Investigations, Kirsty Schofield said this investigation uncovered an attempt from organised crime to infiltrate Australian businesses.

"The AFP commends the prompt actions of the ABF in identifying this alleged criminal conduct by a subcontractor and swiftly responding," Commander Schofield said.

"This was an opportunistic attempt to use a position of insight and access into the mail delivery system, motivated by personal gain and greed."

Acting ABF Commander Port Operations East, Brendan Slape said this operation is another example of how the ABF and its partners work together to keep dangerous drugs off Australian streets. 

"This is not the first time a trusted insider has been caught attempting to facilitate the importation of illicit drugs." Commander Slape said.

"Our international and domestic partnerships continue to disrupt criminals attempting to bring drugs into the country. We are not just stopping drugs at the border, by working together we are stopping those involved in their importation, no matter where they are in the supply chain."

Note to Media

Operation Centinel Joint Agency Taskforce is a front-line taskforce led by the AFP and ABF, supported by the Department of Home Affairs, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and AUSTRAC with a focus on identifying vulnerabilities within Australia's air and maritime supply chains and targeting them with a wide variety of disruption tactics, including investigations and prosecution, enhanced compliance activity, legislative/policy reform, offshore disruption and industry engagement.

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

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