Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Federal Police, New South Wales Crime Commission, New South Wales Police Force
A search warrant during a joint agency operation has uncovered a clandestine drug production facility at a home in Beverly Hills in Sydney’s south-west.
The area has been deemed safe and there is no identified risk to the community.
Investigators from joint agency Operation Sudwala attended a home in Lakemba, NSW on Tuesday, 3 July 2018 to execute a routine search warrant for evidence-gathering purposes, in connection with an ongoing investigation which has been running since 2017.
As part of this investigation in January 2018, police seized 70 litres of methamphetamine and arrested a 53-year-old Hong Kong national for his alleged involvement in the manufacturing of the drug. Intelligence provided by New Zealand Police was instrumental in leading to this activity.
Following this arrest, the joint agency team continued investigations, and on Tuesday, 3 July, Australian Federal Police (AFP), NSW Police Force (NSWPF) and Australian Border Force (ABF) officers attended a house in Lakemba, and uncovered information which led to a second property of interest in Beverly Hills, NSW.
Police executed two further search warrants at Beverly Hills properties and discovered a clandestine drug laboratory, which police allege was being used to extract methamphetamine from fabric soaked in the substance.
NSWPF State Crime Command Drug and Firearms Squad (Chemical Operations) attended and assisted investigators at the scene.
During the searches across Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 July, investigators located approximately 15-17kg of a substance which returned a positive result for methamphetamine. A quantity of fabric soaked in a substance believed to be methamphetamine was also located at the scene. An estimated total of 150 litres of liquid methamphetamine was recovered.
Further forensic testing will be carried out to determine the exact weight and purity of the substances.
A 51-year-old Chinese woman from Lakemba, and a 56-year-old Chinese man from Lakemba, were arrested by the AFP and NSWPF, and charged with the state-based offence of manufacture and production of prohibited drugs, contrary to section 24 of the Drugs Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985 (NSW).
They appeared before court on 5 July and were remanded to reappear at Burwood Local Court on 29 August 2018.
Investigations remain ongoing and further arrests have not been ruled out.
AFP Coordinator Organised Crime, Detective acting Superintendent Mark Webster, said the discovery of the lab was a result of policing partnerships in action.
“This result is an example of good police work, involving detectives and intelligence analysts working together from a number of different law enforcement agencies. The seizure of illicit drugs is significant, as is the level of disruption caused to this criminal syndicate,” Detective acting Superintendent Webster said.
“There is more work to do to ensure that we make life as difficult as possible for organised crime syndicates operating in our community. We will continue this fight with our partners utilising our full suite of capabilities.”
NSWPF Organised Crime Squad Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Damien Beaufils, said the key to a real and lasting impact on organised crime is through a reduction in demand for all illicit commodities.
“All criminal enterprise is motivated by profit, and while ever there is high-demand for drugs, there will be someone trying to exploit it,” Det A/Supt Beaufils said.
“While collaborative local and international law enforcement operations are having success in targeting these networks and their activities, we need strong community cooperation to break the cycle of addiction and ultimately reduce demand for illegal drugs.”
Australian Border Force Commander Investigations Graeme Grosse said working together with law enforcement partners had again led to a great result.
“An investigation that has led to multiple charges and involved our federal and state law enforcement partners demonstrates we do not tolerate the importation of illicit drugs through our border or domestic manufacturing in our community,” Commander Grosse said.
“The fact is; Australia’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies are united and resolute in their commitment to combat the illicit drug trade.”
This investigation has involved members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), NSW Police Force (NSWPF), Australian Border Force (ABF), Department of Home Affairs (DHA), NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC) and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).