Illicit drugs hidden in a caravan shipped from the UK sized

Illicit drugs hidden in a caravan shipped from the UK sized


Australian Border Force (ABF) tracked a sea cargo consignment from the United Kingdom on suspicion of illicit drugs. They conducted further examinations at the Sydney Container Examination Facility (CEF) and seized 91 kg of MDMA and 3 kg of ice.

Investigating anomalies noted during x-ray of the caravan, the ABF Detector Dog Unit was put to use. This also indicated presence of illicit drugs in the caravan.

On deconstructing the caravan, officers found drugs hidden within three cavities, with an estimated $5 million in street value. Following this, AFP investigators conducted a controlled delivery. After removing the drugs, they allowed the caravan to continue to its destination.

Two men who were awaiting the caravan’s arrival in St Ives, Sydney where arrested by the Police. Two men were charged for attempting to smuggle 91kg of MDMA and 3kg of ice into Australia, hidden in a caravan shipped from the UK. Even though services of a customs broker located in Sydney may have been used, no details are available.

Gerard Fletcher, AFP Detective Superintendent said this operation clearly shows the importance of the AFP and ABF working together to stop drugs and other harmful substances reaching the Australians. He also hoped the operation send a message: if you’re thinking of buying, selling or transporting illicit drugs, it’s simply not worth the risk.

Danielle Yannopoulos, ABF Regional Commander NSW was of the opinion that this detection is yet another example of effectiveness of ABF’s targeted, multi-layered approach to protecting the border and the Australian community. Explaining the process he said “After successfully identifying this as a shipment of interest, we’ve used our cutting-edge x-ray technology and world-class detector dogs to locate a significant amount of dangerous drugs before they could reach the community,”

Charges leveled against these two men are on two counts. For importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug – one for 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) and another for methamphetamine. Maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

JOCG dismantle global drug syndicate

Eight people were arrested in Sydney and one in Dubai for conspiring to illegally import drugs and tobacco into Australia. This is part of the JOCGs efforts to eliminate high-level organised crime syndicates

The Joint Organised Crime Group-JOCG is a joint action group with members from Australian Federal Police (AFP), NSW Police Force (NSWPF), Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC).

Operation Astatine focused on a NSW-based criminal network involved in drug trafficking and tobacco smuggling. This group is alleged to be behind the conspiracy to import 200 kilograms of MDMA via sea cargo and smuggling 50 million cigarettes into Australia. This group is also reported to be engaged in money laundering activities.

In a controlled delivery to an address in Rosebery, 52-year-old Queensland man was arrested for allegedly transporting and accessing the substance. JOCG seized 80 kilograms of cocaine at an address in Rosebery. Though there has been detailed reporting of the operation, involvement of any Sydney based customs broker  is not known.

Agencies such as The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), AFP and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection also conducted a parallel investigation – codenamed Operation Zeus. An ABF officer was charged for assisting the syndicate avoid law enforcement detection. A former Australian Customs and Border Protection Service officer has also been charged for the same offence.

Success of the exercise was due to the successful cooperation of UAE Ministry of Justice, the Dubai Public Prosecution Office, Dubai Police and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Added to this was the domestic expertise of AUSTRAC, the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD).

Head of this syndicate, a 47-year-old man from NSW was arrested in the United Arab Emirates by the Dubai police anti-narcotics department, assisted by AFP and NSWPF detectives.

According to Stephen Dametto, AFP Coordinator Organised Crime and Cyber, organised crime has become a global business and a high degree of sophistication and collaboration with multi country agencies is required to combat these groups.

Nine detained and 300kg ephedrine seized in Sydney

Nine detained and 300kg ephedrine seized in Sydney


In a joint operation of the Australian Border Force (ABF) and New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) 300kg of ephedrine hidden in 50 individual consignments were seized. Ephedrine was concealed in a very highly sophisticated manner in vehicle radiators, tool boxes, wall hangings and portable coolers. This was unearthed in raids on ten homes across Sydney.

During the course of the raids the team also came across nine unlawful non-citizens who were detained.
Australian Border Force (ABF) started working on links to an organised criminal network of Chinese nationals operating in the south western suburbs of Sydney. This investigation resulted in identifying multiple imports of ephedrine from China.

Further, the criminal network of Chinese nationals was found to be responsible for importing more than 300 kilograms of ephedrine. The ephedrine was concealed within 50 individual consignments intercepted by the ABF between March 2016 and February 2017. Involvement of any Sydney based customs broker in not acknowledged.
This also happens to be the largest ephedrine seizure since the ABF was stood up in 2015. The 300 kilograms of ephedrine can be converted to 240 kilograms of ice. The street value of 240 kilograms of ice is estimated to be $240 million.

Search and seizure warrants at ten premises by ABF officers and NSWPF Drug Squad resulted in the arrest of two men from Campsie, aged 29 and 26. They were charged with importing a Tier 1 good, namely ephedrine, in contravention of Section 307.11 of the Criminal Code.

The 26-year-old, who was an unlawful non-citizen, was bailed and taken into immigration detention. His accomplice the 29-year-old was remanded in custody. For the offences charged, the maximum penalty can be 25 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $900,000.

Tim Fitzgerald ABF Regional Commander NSW gave credit for the success of operation to very effective close cooperation between law enforcement agencies at all levels.


Cocaine and meth worth $186M concealed in mining equipment seized


In a joint operation, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Border Force (ABF) tracked a consignment of mining equipment which came from South Africa to Melbourne. The team seized approximately 254kg of cocaine and 104kg of methyl-amphetamine.

Both drugs put together has an estimated combined value in excess of $186 million. In this connection four men have been arrested in Sydney and Melbourne.

Anomalies were noticed in X-ray images within an iron ore extractor of a consignment of industrial mining equipment. This was detected by ABF officers at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility. Physical examination of the iron ore extractor by ABF officers led to the discovery of 358 1kg block packages of cocaine and methyl-amphetamine. This was concealed in a load of activated charcoal within the mining equipment.

From Melbourne to a storage facility in Sydney, AFP commenced a controlled delivery. Subsequently in Sydney three men were arrested after accessing the consignment. In additional search warrants which followed on the Central Coast of NSW, AFP officers seized cash in a compressed block of AUD$100 notes. It is not known if any Sydney customs broker was involved in the processing of the documents.

The men arrested were charged under following provisions of law. Attempt to import commercial quantities of border controlled drugs, pursuant to subsection 307.1 (1), by virtue of subsection 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth). Attempt to possess commercial quantities of border controlled drugs, pursuant to subsection 307.5(1) by virtue of subsection 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).These offences can attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

This successful operation is an example of the capabilities of ABF to detect even the most sophisticated concealment. The upgraded container x-ray technology has been able to penetrate through several layers of steel, machinery and coal, stones to identify these concealed packages. This is also an example of the  successful cooperation between Australia’s border and law enforcement agencies.


Criminal syndicates dismantled after Cocaine seized from commercial vessel

Criminal syndicates dismantled after Cocaine seized from commercial vessel

In a major multi-agency operation, six men were arrested in Melbourne and Queensland. This has resulted in exposing two criminal syndicates working together to import and distribute cocaine in Australia.

Australian Border Force’s (ABF) Maritime Border Command intercepted and boarded a 50-meter commercial vessel after its suspicious movements were spotted during a routine aerial patrol. Maritime Border Command, a multi-agency Taskforce within the ABF has been monitoring the vessel for quiet some time.

On examination by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), ABF and Tasmania Police at the Port of Hobart, approximately 186 kilograms of cocaine was seized. Estimated street value of the cocaine seized is $60.45 million. In this connection, ten foreign nationals were charged with attempting to import  commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. Since this is a smuggling operation using marine vessels there is very little chance of involvement of any Sydney based customs broker.

Fifteen search warrants across Melbourne and Queensland were executed by Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF) comprised of AFP, Victoria Police, ABF and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC). They were assisted by Queensland JOCTF, comprised of the AFP, the Queensland Police Service, ABF and ACIC.

Following this six Australian nationals were charged for their role in this attempted importation. The task force also seized drug manufacturing equipment $93,000 in cash. The investigation team allege that the men arrested were planning to transport cocaine to Australia for distribution to multiple drug trafficking syndicates across Australia.

Task force on crime will continue with investigations on these drug syndicates. This is done with the active cooperation and support of international law enforcement partners. Success rate of these operations is an example of dedication of officers involved effective cooperation between Australia’s law enforcement agencies at both a state and Commonwealth level.

Those arrested are charged with attempting to import a border controlled drug, namely cocaine, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). These charges can attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Three Canadians with 95kg cocaine arrested from Cruise ship in Sydney

Three Canadians with 95kg cocaine arrested from Cruise ship in Sydney


Three Canadian nationals were arrested for drug importation charges from a Cruise Ship in Sydney. Approximately 95 kilograms of cocaine was seized from them.

The seizure and arrest  was the result of a A joint operation between the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP), in cooperation with the US Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

On the vessel berthed in Sydney Harbour, ABF officers used detector dogs to search a number of passenger cabins on the ship. This resulted in the recovery of approximately 95 kilograms of cocaine. Cocaine was located concealed in suitcases.

On the basis of this seizure, AFP officers arrested three Canadian nationals, a 63-year-old man, a 28-year-old woman and a 23-year old woman. The three arrested were charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine. The offence can attract maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Involvement any Sydney based customs broker is not known.

Commenting on the success of this mission ABF Assistant Commissioner, Strategic Border Command, Clive Murray said that this was a good example of international cooperation leading to significant results in the fight against international drug syndicates.

The present successful operation has resulted in three arrests. ABF is committed to continue with investigations and working with partner agencies to protect the community. This will stop dangerous drugs making their way to Australian communities. This will also pave the way for bringing those responsible to justice.

There is growing concern on the role of international drug syndicates bringing in drugs to Australia. International drug syndicates use advanced techniques to avoid detection by law enforcement agencies. They also have infrastructure and manpower located in different parts of the world.

To counter this different law enforcement agencies in the country has to work together. Agencies based in different countries also need to cooperate and work together to make the fight against international drug syndicates successful.

210 kg methamphetamine concealed in jeans seized

Following a two-month investigation, the AFP arrested a 29-year-old Bexley North man allegedly importing 210 kg of methamphetamine. The material seized is estimated to have a street value of $210 million. AFP officers started investigations after an air freight consignment of 15 boxes arrived in Sydney from Taiwan, labelled as ‘women’s jeans’. Official agencies have not confirmed involvement of any Sydney customs broker in the documentation and processing of this consignment.

After noticing anomalies within 12 of the boxes Australian Border Force (ABF) officers conducted an examination of the consignment labelled as jeans. They found that there were plastic bags in the boxes containing a crystalline substance. On conducting mandatory testing, the crystalline substance tested positive to the presence of methamphetamine.

On the basis of these findings, the matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for further investigation and necessary action. Following this, required forensic examination as required by the law was conducted by AFP officers. Chemical analysis that followed confirmed the substance to be methamphetamine with an approximate weight of 210 kilograms.

The 29-year-old Bexley North man arrested was charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 301.1(1) Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug usually used as a white, bitter-tasting powder or a pill. Crystal methamphetamine is a form of the drug that looks like glass fragments or shiny, bluish-white rocks. It is chemically similar to amphetamine. AFP also arrested a 24-year-old Blacktown man in connection to this investigation. Once convicted, the accused can get maximum penalty up to life imprisonment for this offence.

Roger Brown, AFP Manager Crime Operations said this investigation and subsequent action kept the drug from reaching the streets. The seized material could be converted to more than 2.1 million ‘hits’ of methamphetamine from reaching the community. This well planned investigation is an example of the commitment of law enforcement agencies to stop these drugs from ending up in Australia.

154 kg of meth concealed in timber logs seized, two people charged

154 kg of meth concealed in timber logs seized, two people charged


A joint investigation by Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) officers resulted in two people getting arrested in Sydney and Melbourne. They were booked for their alleged role in the importation of approximately 154 kilograms of methamphetamine.

After detecting anomalies in 14 of the 121 timber logs arrived in Sydney from Africa, a joint investigation led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) commenced investigations. Forensic examination by AFP officers that followed revealed approximately 154kgs of methamphetamine in total. AFP has not identified association any customs broker in this case.

According to national Institute on Drug Abuse, Methamphetamine – meth for short – is a very addictive stimulant drug. It is a powder that can be made into a pill or a shiny rock (called a crystal). The powder can be eaten or snorted up the nose. It can also be mixed with liquid and injected into your body with a needle. Crystal meth is smoked in a small glass pipe.

Meth at first causes a rush of good feelings, but then users feel edgy, overly excited, angry, or afraid. Meth use can quickly lead to addiction. It causes medical problems including making your body temperature so high that you pass out, Severe itching, “Meth mouth” – broken teeth and dry mouth and thinking and emotional problems.

According to Australian Federal Police, the 154 kilo of methamphetamine seized has an approximate street value of $115 million. Street value is calculated according to the Victorian median drug price for the specific drug as listed in the latest Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission Illicit Drug Data Report. Final figure is arrived at by calculating the street value of the individual street dosage unit, purity and quantity of the seized drug.

On the basis of the findings of the investigation, the AFP conducted search warrants in Sydney and Melbourne. They arrested a 64-year-old Werrington man in Sydney and a 20-year-old Moonee Ponds man was arrested in Melbourne.

Crystal Meth worth $275 million seized, eight people arrested

Crystal Meth worth $275 million seized, eight people arrested

Victoria Joint Organised Crime Task Force (JOCTF) seized 275 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, with a street value of around $275 million and charged eight men responsible for the importation of the illicit drugs into Australia. The accused include one Malaysian and seven Australian citizens.

The Victoria JOCTF consists of trained specialist from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Victoria Police (VicPOL), the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Australian Border Force (ABF).

Investigations started following intelligence inputs on a syndicate bringing in drugs concealed in marine containers. JOCTF intercepted and searched three marine containers. They found approximately 275kg of crystal methamphetamine concealed under the floorboards of these three shipping containers

In a controlled operation, the containers were delivered to an industrial estate in Bayswater. Following this a number of people accessed the containers. JOCTF executed search warrants in the Melbourne suburbs of South Yarra, Braybrook, Bayswater, Brunswick, Box Hill and Glen Waverley.

Following this seizure, eight men aged between 24 and 34 were charged. Out of this, three were charged with commercial drug importation offences and five for attempting to possess and trafficking of methamphetamine. The offence can attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. It is not known if the drug cartel used the services of a Sydney customs broker to clear the containers.

According to Ian McCartney Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner and  National Manager Organised Crime and Cyber, the persistence and dedication of police and partner agencies resulted in this successful operation. Because of this  two and a half million hits of this insidious drug did not reach the streets. AFP was supported by Chinese authorities on Taskforce Blaze. This in particular investigates criminal syndicates trafficking ice to Australia and internationally.

Cooperation between various agencies at the national and international level is required to book drug syndicates. At the same holistic approach is required to reduce consumption of drugs and bring down demand.

JOCTF in action mode drugs worth $200 million seized

JOCTF in action mode drugs worth $200 million seized

In a well planned and executed operation the Western Australia Joint Organised Crime Task Force seized approximately 200 kilograms of methamphetamine worth approximately $200 million. In this connection 14 people were charged with drug importation offences.  The entire operation was initiated following information from Australian Border Force on a commercial fishing boat off the Western Australia coast near Geraldton.

This was followed by search warrants executed at an address in East Cannington where approximately 150 kilograms of methylamphetamine was seized. Additional warrant activity at an Embleton house resulted in the recovery of approximately 50 kilograms of methylamphetamine. This quantity of methylamphetamine could cause immense harm in Western Australia as it equated to more than two million individual hits. Role of any Sydney customs broker in this importation is not clear.

Western Australia Joint Organised Crime Task Force (WA JOCTF)  is a group of well trained professionals from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Western Australia Police (WAPOL), Australian Crime Commission (ACC), Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

Task force allege that the people charged were part of an organized criminal syndicate who transport of the drugs from the fishing boat to Western Australia using small watercraft. All were charged with commercial drug importation offences. The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.

Those charged include six Malaysian nationals aged between 24 and 54-years-old and eight Chinese nationals aged between 37 and 56-years-old have been. All Chinese nationals were the crew of commercial fishing boat.

According to David Stewart Australian Federal Police acting Assistant Commissioner globalisation of crime has become very complex and sophisticated. Law enforcement agencies need to use highly trained manpower and technology to  face these challenges. To control transnational crime networks agencies need to leveraging and pool men and resources of each agency. Only then agencies can impact on criminal enterprises and protects Australians from harm.