In an 18-month investigation codenamed Operation Diamondback involving multi-agency taskforce, 10 people were arrested. The team seized approximately 1.9 tonnes of a pseudoephedrine and vanilla powder mixture.
During this investigation three Canadian nationals were arrested in Melbourne, five other Canadian nationals and two Australian men were charged. On the basis of information received from the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) and New South Wales Police Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF) initiated Operation Diamondback. This led to investigation on various importations of pseudoephedrine concealed in vanilla powder into Australia.
Police identified a storage facility in South Melbourne with 650kg of pseudoephedrine and vanilla powder mixture. The estimated street value is $ 100 million. The recent seizure could be made into over 100 kilograms of methamphetamine or ‘ice’. The operation effectively have prevented 300kg of methamphetamine from being manufactured and sold with a street value of up to $300 million. There is no connecting information on this seizure and any Sydney customs broker.
The investigating team arrested a 46-year-old Canadian man as he was checking in on a domestic flight to Sydney to meet a connecting international flight to Canada. This was followed by a search warrant in the Melbourne CBD where a 27-year-old man and 30-year-old woman were arrested.
Three Canadian nationals were syndicate members distributing the pseudoephedrine contained within the vanilla powder to multiple criminal syndicates within Australia. Who in turn would use it to make methamphetamine in clandestine laboratories. From here the products are distributed to the final customers at the street level.
Scott Lee, AFP Manager Melbourne Office gave credit for the success of this operation to the strong relationships between the AFP and its partner agencies in Victoria. He also said that the Australian law enforcement agencies are more united than ever in the fight against organised crime.