Ever wondered what Australian Customs does all day?

[11th July 2018] Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) intercepted 40 packages of MDMA and cocaine linked to a drug syndicate. Drugs sized are valued at AUD 3.3 million and were hidden in wine bottles, potato chip packets and chilli paste. These packets were packed in accompanied luggage or sent via post.

A 26-year-old French national alleged to be part of an European drug syndicate was arrested in this connection. French national was arrested and charged in Sydney. He is suspected of using tourists, students and backpackers to distribute illegal drugs imported from France.

Since March 2018 three French nationals and one Belgian national were arrested and charged for their role in the syndicate. The law enforcement agencies have also arrested and charged eight people, including students and backpackers, for their role in trafficking the drugs. Since drugs concealed in wine bottles and other packets came by post and as accompanied luggage, services or advice from Sydney based customs brokers may have been sought, however ABF has not identified any at this stage.

The 26-year-old French national will face following charges. Aid and abet, counsel or procure the importation of a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment or 7,500 penalty units (at A$210/unit), or both.

Two French nationals and a Belgian man were arrested in Melbourne for the importation of 750gms of MDMA, valued at up to AUD 280,000, concealed in wine bottles. They will face the following charges. Import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, aid and abet the importation of a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and deal with money or other property reasonably suspected of being the proceeds of Crime.

According to Paul Hopkins AFP Detective Superintendent, cracking of this syndicate shows shared commitment of AFP and ABF in stopping harmful drugs from reaching the Australian community. He also said that the high demand for drugs in Australia induce criminals to use novel and ever-changing methods. Controlling inflow of drugs into Australia is not just possible by law enforcement agencies alone, it has to be a joint effort, with the involvement of the whole community.


Hong Kong National Arrested for Running Drug Lab
[6th July 2018] Investigators from joint agency Operation Sudwala arrested a 53-year-old Hong Kong national for his alleged involvement in manufacturing drugs. Arrest followed a joint agency operation which uncovered a clandestine drug production facility at a home in Beverly Hills in Sydney’s south-west.

This was announced in a joint media release between Australian Federal Police, NSW Police, Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and NSW Crime Commission.

It was further clarified that the area is safe and there is no identified risk to the community. Police seized 70 litres of methamphetamine. Intelligence provided by New Zealand Police was instrumental in unearthing the crime.

The clandestine drug laboratory, the police allege, was being used to extract methamphetamine from fabric soaked in the substance. NSWPF State Crime Command Drug and Firearms Squad (Chemical Operations) assisted investigators in reaching this conclusion.

Investigators also located approximately 15-17kg of a substance which was later identified as methamphetamine. Fabric soaked in a substance believed to be methamphetamine was found at the scene. Total methamphetamine recovered amounted to 150 litres. Channels used to bring in methamphetamine and possibility of involvement of customs brokers in regional Sydney areas are not clear at this stage.

Following this a 51-year-old Chinese woman from Lakemba, and a 56-year-old Chinese man from Lakemba, were arrested. They were charged with offences related to manufacture and production of prohibited drugs.

The discovery of the lab was a result of policing partnerships in action, said AFP Coordinator Organised Crime, Detective acting Superintendent Mark Webster. He added that this is the result of good police work, involving detectives and intelligence analysts working together from a number of different law enforcement agencies.

Damien Beaufils, NSWPF Organised Crime Squad Commander said crime related to drug trade is only possible through a reduction in demand for all illicit commodities. He added that criminal activity is always for quick money. Whenever there is a chance for this due to high demand for drugs, crime cannot be stopped completely.


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