Two men charged with serious drug offences after 18kgs of meth seized in South Australia

Two men have been charged with allegedly importing around 18 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in modified 4WD recovery winches in Adelaide.

It is estimated 18 kilograms of methamphetamine has a street value of $13.5 million*. This equates to almost 180,000 street deals of methamphetamine.

On 24 February 2019 the Australian Border Force (ABF) intervened and examined a passenger (51 year old man, mentioned below) who came through Perth Airport from Bali. When suspicions were unable to be allayed the ABF referred the matter for further investigation with the support of police.

On 27 February 2019, Op NEIRIN began when the National Anti-Gang Squad (NAGS) South Australia (comprising members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and South Australia Police) – with further assistance from the Joint Agency ICE Strike Team – began an investigation into air cargo consignments linked to the passenger.

On Tuesday (5 March 2019) NAGS officers supported by South Australia Police Crime Gangs Taskforce, ABF and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission executed search warrants in the Adelaide suburbs of Wingfield and Modbury Heights. The consignment of winches concealing the drugs was seized from the Wingfield address. A further search warrant was conducted yesterday (6 March 2019) in Wingfield.

Police will allege items consistent with the distribution of illicit drugs were also seized at the locations including $13,300 in cash, a cash counter, scales, electronic devices and travel documents.

During the search warrants on 5 March, five people were taken into custody. Three of them (aged 21, 19, 49) were later released without charge. The two remaining men (aged 51 and 46) were charged with importation of a commercial quantity of methamphetamine. These offences have a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The two men appeared before the Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday, where they were remanded in custody until their next court appearance on 13 March.

AFP Superintendent Gail McClure said the organised crime group, allegedly responsible for this importation, was blatant in how they conducted business.

“This is a great result for the Adelaide community. The organisers behind this importation have been brazen in the methods used to bring these drugs into Australia. They have made no effort to change how they conceal the drugs. We have seen importations such as this in 4WD recovery winches before. The investigation will continue with a view to identifying the organisers and disrupting the supply chain,” Superintendent McClure said.

Sa Pol Detective Chief Inspector Michael Fisher, the officer in charge of Crime Gangs Task Force, said law enforcement agencies will continue to work together.

“Police agencies will continue to work together to target organised crime groups, who are involved in the importation, manufacturing and supplying of illicit drugs. We are committed to reduce the harm caused by the use of illicit drugs in our community,” Detective Chief Inspector Fisher said.

ABF Chief Superintendent South Australia, Brett Liebich, congratulated all officers involved in the operation, in particular the ABF officers at Perth Airport who made the original breakthrough.

“ABF officers at our airports and mail centres work tirelessly each day to protect the community, and this is another example of their skills, intuition and diligence stopping illicit substances from reaching Australian families and causing harm,” Chief Superintendent Liebich said.

“This operation should serve as a warning to those thinking of importing illicit substances – no matter how you try and move your drugs, the ABF, which is networked nationally and globally, will be waiting.”

The investigation is continuing with further arrests expected.

Anyone with information about this matter, or the manufacture or distribution of illicit drugs, is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or report online at www.crimestopperssa.com.au – you can remain anonymous.

Editor’s Note:

Footage and images of this investigation located here:

https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/ZDUs5Q4sJN/YWZwbmF0aW9uYWxtZWRpYUBhZnAuZ292LmF1

*The AFP uses the ACIC Illicit Drug Data Report (www.acic.gov.au) as the consistent publication for illicit substances in Australia. This figure is the basis of calculating both the monetary value of the illicit drug were it to be sold at the end of the supply chain or 'on the street', and the number of related street deals. This is based on available price data and may not be reflective of what would generally be considered as a street deal for this drug type.

Media Enquiries:
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SA Pol: (08) 7322 3849
ABF Media: (02) 6264 3344

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