On the basis of intelligence provided by the ACIC, Australian Border Force officers at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility examined a consignment of washing powder. They found out pseudo-ephedrine mixture in 57 boxes, hidden amongst over 900 boxes of washing powder. Powder tested positive for pseudo-ephedrine on chemical analysis. This consignment came to Melbourne from Vietnam.
Following this operation, five men were charged with drug importation offences. Two men both aged 48 were charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled precursor, pseudo-ephedrine). Three of the men aged 27, 42 and 48 were charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled precursor, namely pseudo-ephedrine. Four of the men aged 27, 42, 48 and 48 were charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of a drug of dependence, namely pseudo-ephedrine. The maximum penalty for these charges is life imprisonment.
A total of 300 kilograms of pure pseudo-ephedrine was seized in the joint operation in Melbourne. The seized pseudo-ephedrine has the potential to produce 210 kilograms of methamphetamine. The whole sale value of the same is estimated at $42 million and the street price of the same is valued at $200 million. It is not clear if the drug syndicate used a customs broker in Perth CBD for the imports.
The entire operation was a joint investigation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Victoria Police, the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC). Along with the arrest of five men aged between 27 and 48, search warrants were conducted at eight locations in the Melbourne suburbs of Burnside, St Albans, Sunshine, East Keilor and Tottenham. The consignment was located at a factory in Tottenham.
The consignment 1,00 kilograms of pseudo-ephedrine/white powder mix. Rough estimates suggest that about 300 kilograms of pure pseudo-ephedrine is mixed into the white powder. Pseudo-ephedrine is a direct precursor of methamphetamine. The investigation team also allege that the syndicate is responsible for a clandestine laboratory located in Werribee, Victoria. This lab is alleged to have produced 500 kilograms of methamphetamine.
Two Chinese nationals arrested with 500 kilos of MDMA
Two Chinese national were arrested in Sydney for the possession of 500 kilograms of crystal MDMA. This was following an investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Chinese nationals aged 38-years and 34-year were charged under provisions of serious drug importation.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officers examined a consignment of aluminium rollers which arrived in Sydney. They detected a crystalline substance concealed within the rollers. The total weight of MDMA in the consignment is estimated at 500kgs. This quantity of MDMA can be converted into approximately 1.7 million ecstasy tablets. This can fetch $ 60 million when it reaches the street. ABF have not disclosed if any Perth based customs brokers were involved in this importation.
AFP did a controlled delivery of the consignment and was able to arrest two men. AFP also executed search warrants on a number of Sydney premises, including a storage facility at Miranda, NSW.
The arrested men were charged with one count of attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, namely MDMA, contrary to Section 307.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and one count of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border-controlled drug, namely MDMA, contrary to Section 307.5 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth). Once convicted, the offences can attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Brett James, AFP acting State Manager for NSW is of the opinion that strong ties with domestic and international partners are very crucial to combating transnational crime. The global criminal environment today is complex and borderless. The high demand for illicit drugs in Australia makes drug trade very profitable. Organised criminal syndicates across the border will stop at nothing to exploit this market.
Law enforcement agencies in Australia will have to counter the illegal activities of these groups with intelligence and innovation. They also need to collaborate with domestic and international counterparts to effectively curb drug trade.