Man charged after 1000 litres of pseudoephedrine seized – Operation PHOBETOR

Austrlian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force

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A joint-agency police investigation has resulted in the seizure of more than 1100 litres of pseudoephedrine, following an investigation into the importation of prohibited drugs into New South Wales.

Earlier this year, detectives from the NSW Police Force’s State Crime Command, the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), established Operation PHOBETOR to target and disrupt serious organised crime in NSW.

Their inquiries uncovered a criminal syndicate involved in the importation, storage and supply of illicit drugs, and a storage facility in Prospect which contained 1125 litres of pseudoephedrine which was subsequently seized by police.

Further investigations by Operation PHOBETOR revealed the syndicate was allegedly involved in a previous importation of 295kg of methylamphetamine – with an estimated street value of $184 million – concealed within an excavator sent from Hong Kong.

Three men – aged 25, 26 and 30 – have previously been charged over their alleged involvement in that importation and remain before the courts.

Following further inquiries, Operation PHOBETOR detectives executed a search warrant at a home in Seven Hills, about 7am last Thursday (18 November 2021).

During a subsequent search of the home, police seized clothing, documents, and more than $15,000 cash.

All items seized will undergo further forensic examination.

A 29-year-old man was arrested and taken to Blacktown Police Station, where he was charged with two counts of supply prohibited drug more than large commercial quantity, take part in supply of prohibited drug more than large commercial quantity, and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.

Police will allege in court the man was responsible for the seized precursor chemicals located at the Prospect storage facility in June 2021.

He appeared at Blacktown Local Court the same day, where he was formally refused bail to reappear at Parramatta Local Court on Wednesday 1 December 2021.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said the arrest of the four men is testament to the power of the three-way partnership, and its ability to disrupt major crime across the state, and beyond.

“Utilising the resources of multiple agencies but operating as one, PHOBETOR investigators quickly built a detailed brief against the three men before the court and stopped harmful drugs from entering the community,” Commissioner Fuller said.

“Our partnership with the ACIC has never been stronger and more capable, and we’re immensely grateful that they have joined the NSW Police Force and AFP with Operation PHOBETOR; an agile, joint-agency response to the modern and evolving crime landscape.”

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the syndicates and individuals targeted under Operation PHOBETOR will be those involved in illicit drug and weapon trafficking, and money laundering.

“It has never been more risky to be a criminal in Australia, or an offender who targets Australians from overseas. Together, the AFP, New South Wales Police Force and ACIC are coming for those who target Australians or Australia’s interests,” AFP Commissioner Kershaw said.

“These criminals undermine our national security and our economy. They make our suburbs and roads less safe. The way Australians live will be changed if illicit drug use is not greatly reduced and if these serious criminals are not brought to justice,” he added.

Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Michael Phelan said we continue to see significant results in preventing illicit drugs from reaching our community and causing further harm through Operation PHOBETOR.

“We look forward to working with the NSW Police Force and the Australian Federal Police on more successful operations, as we extend our reach into criminal networks using our unique intelligence capabilities,” Mr Phelan said.

Anyone with information that may assist Operation PHOBETOR investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report information via NSW Police social media pages.