Nationwide operation targets meth imports

ACT Policing, Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Federal Police, Department of Home Affairs, New South Wales Police Force, Northern Territory Police, Queensland Police Service, South Australia Police, Tasmania Police, Victoria Police, Western Australia Police

Drug syndicates using the postal system to import methamphetamine have been put on notice, following a nationwide law enforcement operation targeting the ice supply chain into Australia.

The results of the coordinated week of action last week – known as Operation Syndal – can today be revealed, which included a total of 26 search warrants Australia-wide over the week beginning last Monday, February 17, 2020.

Operation Syndal was conducted in response to the demand for Ice in the community, and combined the resources of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Border Force (ABF), the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), and all State and Territory police forces.

A detailed intelligence analysis of trends in methamphetamine importations through the mail system was used to build a picture of potential targets for law enforcement activity throughout the operation.

In NSW alone – over a six month period from July to December 2019, the AFP recorded approximately 143.52 kilograms of methamphetamine seizures that had been sent through the mail stream and detected by the ABF.

The action is part of Taskforce Vitreus, a working group under the National Law Enforcement Methylamphetamine Strategy (NLEMS).

AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Eastern Command Robert Jenner said this example of intelligence led-policing has delivered a blow to the business model of drug syndicates.

“Across one week, Australian law enforcement has visited more than 72 properties which has revealed a picture about the drug trade in our communities,” Detective Acting Superintendent Jenner said.

“Unfortunately, the results also show that as long as the demand for ice remains strong in Australian communities, criminal syndicates will go to any lengths to try to meet that.”

Australian Border Force Regional Commander for NSW Danielle Yannopoulos said this operation is another example of how the ABF and its law enforcement partners work together to keep dangerous drugs off Australian streets.

“Our partnerships continue to disrupt criminal syndicates attempting to bring drugs into the country. We’re not only detecting drugs at the border – together we are stopping those involved in their importation,” Commander Yannopoulos said.

“No matter how criminals attempt to conceal and move their drugs, ABF officers have the skills, technology and the resources to find the substances and track down the people who are attempting to bring them in.”

ACIC Executive Director Capability Mark Harrison MBE said the National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program continues to indicate a steady increase in the demand for methylamphetamine in Australia.

“Wastewater analysis shows regional use of methylamphetamine remains above capital city sites. Understanding these preferences is important to develop and deliver tailored responses to target and disrupt the supply chain.”

NSW Police Force State Crime Command Drug and Firearms Squad Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Michael Cook, said partnerships between law enforcement are critical for joint operations to target drug supply using postal services.

“The coordinated efforts over the week of action show that there’s nowhere to run and nowhere to hide if you are using postal services to supply prohibited drugs,” Det. A/Supt Cook said.

“The NSW Police Force has some of the most sophisticated technology and resources at our disposal and we will continue to target drug trade at every level of the supply chain.”

Investigative leads uncovered throughout Operation Syndal will continue to be examined, and further arrests and charges have not been ruled out.

For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.

Operation Syndal: National Results summary:                   

  • 26 Search warrants, 46 deterrence door knocks, five arrests on Commonwealth and State charges.
  • More than 10,000 mail items searched or scanned nationally.
  • Larger seizures included a 4.7kg bulk seizure of methamphetamine at a Victorian search warrant, plus another one kilogram seizure in the lining of a mail item from Mexico destined for a Sydney address.

Police also had hundreds of small seizures from mail packages nationally, that could have resulted in more than one thousand individual street deals. This includes:

  • 99.1 grams of meth in mail seizures as small as 0.1 grams
  • 33.1 grams of MDMA (tablets can weight as little as 0.2 of a gram)
  • 5.5kg of cannabis from a variety of seizures

Police seized approximately $52,000 found at search warrants nationally.

Other items of interest seized at search warrants nationally include a designer wristwatch, a replica shotgun, a replica AK-47, 30 rounds of ammunition and a flick knife.