Two tonnes of GBL washed from Sydney's streets

Drums containing GBL liquid

This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force.

A joint Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force operation has resulted in one of Australia’s largest seizures of the drug gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) - commonly referred to as liquid ecstasy, fantasy, or ‘coma in a bottle’.

A 30-year-old man has been charged for his alleged role in the 2000-litre importation of GBL, which has a street value of $10 million.

The operation began in early February when ABF Investigators received information and identified a high-risk shipping container arriving into Sydney. 

The consignment contained 120 drums, each with a capacity of 200 litres. During a physical examination ABF officers at the NSW Container Examination Facility identified 10 drums that had a number of anomalies.  Presumptive testing of the liquid in the 10 drums, labelled as car pre-painting wash, returned a positive result for GBL totalling an approximate volume of 2000 litres.

The matter was referred to the AFP for further investigation and subsequent crime scene analysis by AFP forensic specialists confirmed the positive result.

Further forensic analysis will be conducted to determine the exact volume and purity of the liquid.  It is estimated this volume of GBL could have a potential street value of approximately $10 million

Today (Friday, 9 February), AFP officers executed a series of search warrants across Sydney in Warwick Farm, Marrickville, Moorebank and Lewisham, where a 30-year-old man was arrested.

The man was charged with one count of importing of a commercial quantity of a border controlled substance under subsection 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).  He is scheduled to face Liverpool Court later today.

AFP Commander Chris Sheehan, State Manager NSW, said while some people believed GBL was a harmless “party drug”, the realities were much more dangerous.

“What people are actually ingesting is an industrial chemical solvent. The World Health Organization says it is the kind of substance commonly found in paint strippers, stain removers, and circuit board cleaners,” Commander Sheehan said.

“This ‘coma in a bottle’ affects a person’s consciousness – predators have used it to enable rape.  It is vital we continue to work with our partners at the border to stop any dangerous drug that can contribute to these sorts of crimes in our community.”

ABF Regional Commander NSW, Tim Fitzgerald, said the detection again shows the effectiveness of Australia’s border and law enforcement agencies working together.

“From just a small piece of information received, investigators from the ABF and AFP were able to stop a significant amount of dangerous chemicals reaching the community and we now have a person before the courts,” Regional Commander Fitzgerald said.

“This detection is a direct result of the expertise and capability of ABF officers in identifying a high risk shipment and the method used to conceal this extremely dangerous drug”

GBL metabolises into the drug gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) in the body.  It can cause abrupt loss of consciousness, memory loss, respiratory difficulties, coma, and death.

Investigations into this importation are ongoing, and further arrests have not been ruled out.

Anyone with information about the importation of illicit drugs is encouraged to contact Border Watch by visiting www.homeaffairs.gov.au/borderwatch. You can provide information anonymously.

Vision and images are available here: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/r137YZibhk

Media enquiries

AFP National Media: (02) 6131 6333

ABF Media: (02) 6264 2244

National Security Hotline

Visit the AFP Futures Centre

Our work at major airports, Airport Watch

Platypus Online: Read. Discover. Enjoy.