Five men have been arrested and charged following a sophisticated joint agency operation in Sydney and Guangdong Province, People’s Republic of China, that resulted in the seizure of more than 100 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as ‘ice’ in China. If the drugs had reached Australia, they would have an estimated street value of AUD$101 million.
Operation Valencia was an investigation conducted by the NSW Joint Organised Crime Group (JOCG) – comprising members from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), New South Wales Police, Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the New South Wales Crime Commission (NSWCC) – which included significant cooperation from Taskforce Blaze in China, coordinated by the AFP’s Guangzhou Post.
The operation began with information from Taskforce Blaze that 101 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine was concealed in the floor of a shipping container departing Yantian Port, Shenzhen, China, for Sydney.
A 22-year-old Fijian national was arrested on Friday, 24 February 2017, for his alleged role in facilitating the attempted importation after the container was delivered to an address in Western Sydney.
Two other men, a 38-year-old Australian man and a 42-year-old Hong Kong resident, were arrested and charged later on the same day for their alleged involvement in this syndicate.
All three men were charged with:
- Attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to Section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act (Cth) 1995; and
- Attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to Section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act (Cth) 1995
Subsequent activity in Guangdong Province, China, resulted in the arrest of one Chinese national and one Hong Kong resident in relation to the supply and shipping of the drugs.
Australian Federal Police Detective Acting Superintendent Luke Needham, Coordinator Organised Crime, said this operation highlights the benefits of continuous collaboration between partner agencies.
“This operation is yet another success for our Taskforce Blaze partnership with the Chinese National Narcotics Control Commission,” Detective Acting Superintendent Needham said.
“This unprecedented merging of our two countries’ efforts to combat organised crime is continuing to pay dividends in the form of harmful drugs that will never reach Australian streets.”
NSWPF Organised Crime Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, said strong law enforcement partnerships are imperative to disrupting transnational organised criminal groups.
“By working in conjunction with our interstate, national, and international partners, the Organised Crime Squad can extend its reach to target criminal networks impacting on NSW no matter where they’re operating from.”
ABF Regional Commander NSW Tim Fitzgerald said the operation demonstrates the significant ability of Australian law enforcement to detect illicit drugs before they reach the community.
“Through intelligence sharing and world-class border screening our highly trained officers work tirelessly to stop these drugs at the border,” Commander Fitzgerald said.
“Crystal methamphetamine is a scourge which destroys lives and tears apart families. Working collaboratively with our partner agencies, we have successfully stopped a significant quantity of crystal methamphetamine reaching our streets.”
ACIC New South Wales State Manager Warren Gray said the ACIC has assessed that crystal methamphetamine poses, by far, the greatest threat to the Australian public of all illicit drug types, and by a significant margin.
“With serious and organised crime driving supply trends, and resilient user demand, the ACIC is committed to working with our partners to better understand and respond the threat that crystal methamphetamine poses to our community,” Mr Gray said.
Deputy Commander Taskforce Blaze Jianwei Deng said this operation is another success for Taskforce Blaze which is promoted by senior officials of both the National Narcotics Control Commission and the Australian Federal Police.
“This success shows that despite the current global spread of drugs, transnational drug trafficking crimes can only be curbed through strengthened international drug law enforcement cooperation.”
The 38-year-old Australian, 42-year-old Hong Kong national and 22 year-old Fijian national are scheduled to appear in Sydney Central Local Court on 26 April 2017.
The maximum penalty for the charges is life imprisonment.
Breakdown of men arrested and charged:
- Three men aged 22, 38, 42-years-old were charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to Section 307.1 of the Criminal Code (Cth); and
- Attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to Section 307.5 of the Criminal Code (Cth).
- Chinese authorities arrested one 43-year-old Chinese national and one 65-year-old Hong Kong resident. They are expected to be charged with offences relating to the supply and smuggling of the drugs in China.