An Australian Federal Police-led multi-agency investigation has resulted in the arrest of three men and the seizure of 313 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, marking the largest haul of the drug destined for South Australia.
The investigation involved members from Australian Federal Police (AFP), South Australia Police, Australian Border Force (ABF), Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC and the Australian Tax Office.
The success of this operation demonstrates the collaborative efforts and expertise across the new Home Affairs Portfolio, and the continuing cooperation with our state counterparts.
On 24 January 2018, ABF officers intercepted a sea-cargo consignment containing two crane jibs, destined for Adelaide. Examination revealed 313 clip seal bags containing a white crystalline substance concealed inside the metal base attached to one of the jib arms. A presumptive test indicated a positive reaction to crystal methamphetamine (ice).
AFP officers seized the consignment and forensic testing confirmed the total weight of the drugs concealed in the crane was 313 kilograms. This has a potential estimated street value up to $270 million.*
On Friday (16 February 2018) members of the AFP, ABF and South Australia Police conducted an operation involving three search warrants in the Adelaide suburbs of Waterloo Corner, Green Fields and Two Wells. The three men aged 64, 61 and 45 were all arrested at the Waterloo Corner address.
All three men were charged with attempted possession of a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug - Section 307.5 by virtue of Section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995. While the 64 and 61-year-old men were also charged with the more serious offence of importation of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs - Section 307.1 Criminal Code Act 1995.
The importation offence has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The men are expected to appear before the Adelaide Magistrates Court today, Monday 19 February.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Organised Crime and Cyber Neil Gaughan said the operation served as a warning to criminals in Australia and overseas.
“These men thought they could evade law enforcement and import drugs into Australia to make a substantial profit – now they have no product, no profit and face the prospect of life in prison,” Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said.
“The drug business is the lifeblood of organised crime and we work tirelessly with our partners in Australia and overseas to disrupt the drug supply chains to our shores. Thanks to the dedication of our members working together, these drugs will never reach the streets of Adelaide and spread their devastating effects.”
South Australia Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Duval said the operation demonstrated the successful working relationships between Australian law enforcement agencies.
“This operation is a great example of the cooperation that exists between national and state law enforcement and intelligence agencies in disrupting and dismantling organised crime syndicates that attempt to profit through the trade of crystal methamphetamine. A record amount of drugs have been seized which was believed destined for the streets of South Australia and other states,” Assistant Commissioner Duval said.
“The harms caused by the trafficking and use of methamphetamine in the community are of concern to police and this seizure should serve as a warning to those who seek to profit from the importation of illicit drugs with the offence carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.”
“This seizure comes just days after the announcement of the “Make the Call – Cut the Supply, Stop the Hurt” Crime Stoppers campaign where the public is being encouraged to provide information on persons who are involved in the manufacture and trafficking of methamphetamine. With support from the community police can cut the supply of drugs to stop the hurt and disrupt the supply chain.”
ABF Chief Superintendent SA Regional Command Central, Brett Liebich said criminal syndicates should realise that the ABF maintains a constant presence at the border in every state and territory, 24/7, 365 days a year.
“The ABF will continue to disrupt criminals who have little regard for the detrimental impact these imports have on individuals and the community,” Chief Superintendent Brett Liebich said.
AUSTRAC Acting National Manager, Intelligence Anthony Helmond said the agency’s support was critical in monitoring and disrupting the drug importation activities of this syndicate by collaborating with law enforcement to monitor reportable financial activity and ensure relevant, accurate, and timely all-source intelligence was constantly available.
“AUSTRAC supported the joint operation by providing ongoing intelligence and investigative support through analysis of financial information relating to the suspects,” Mr Helmond said.
*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.