Three Indian nationals arrested in Melbourne over multiple alleged drug importation attempts

Australian Federal Police; Australian Border Force; Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

Three Indian nationals have been arrested and charged by the AFP in Melbourne in relation to multiple alleged attempts to import border controlled substances into Australia.

The AFP-led investigation in partnership with the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) – codenamed Operation Goaltender – began on 4 January 2021 when ABF officers detected 40 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed in crane counterweights shipped from Mexico.

Over the course of the next month the origins and links between multiple consignments seized by the ABF were reviewed and found to contain border controlled substances, including eight kilograms of isopropylbenzylamine (a methamphetamine analogue) and quantities of heroin, cocaine and other drugs from various source countries.

The total weight of drugs seized from the multiple shipping consignments is estimated to be in excess of 100 kilograms.

On 11 February 2021, the AFP executed search warrants on a residential property the Melbourne suburb of Keilor Park and on an apartment in a high-rise tower on Melbourne’s Southbank.

During the course of the search warrants, AFP investigators seized multiple alleged deconstructed drug packages, various packets of methamphetamine weighing over one kilogram in total, approximately $50,000 in cash and numerous mobile phones.

The three men, aged 22, 32 and 38, were arrested and remanded in custody.

They men faced the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday (12 February 2021) charged with:

  • Importation of  commercial quantities of border controlled drugs contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • Possessing commercial quantities of unlawfully imported border controlled drugs contrary to section 307.5(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
  • Dealing in proceeds of crime worth $10,000 or more contrary to section 400.6(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

AFP Commander Investigations Southern Command Todd Hunter said the operation highlighted the AFP’s commitment to protecting the Australian community from the scourge of drug-inflicted harm.

“The first importation attempt began early in the new year of 2021 – proving those who seem to profit from the suffering and addiction of vulnerable Australians don’t take a holiday. Rest assured – neither will the AFP,” Commander Hunter said

“We will continue to work tirelessly alongside our partners, as has been demonstrated in this case, to stay one step ahead of organised criminals.  It is more important than ever that we seek out and prosecute those who heap the burden of crime on the public.”

ABF Port Operations East Acting Commander Brendan Slape says the ABF is committed to keeping drugs off Australia’s streets.

“Illicit drugs have a devastating effect on individuals and their families and ABF Officers are committed to protecting the community from these harmful substances,” A/g Commander Slape said.

“Criminals are constantly looking for new ways to try to smuggle their drugs in, but our highly-trained officers come across tens-of-thousands of packages a week and they know if something isn’t right.”