Australians are among the highest per capita users of methamphetamines and criminals will continue to prey on that high demand to make a profit, a senior Federal Police officer has warned.
The Covid-19 border restrictions have also not prevented criminal groups from trying to bring illicit drugs into the country, he said.
Alleged drug syndicate dismantled
Commander Todd Hunter, the head of investigations for the AFP’s Southern Command, was speaking as the AFP and Australian Border Force confirmed that they have dismantled an alleged drug syndicate for bringing methamphetamine into Australia with an estimated street value of $135-million.
The two law enforcement organisations began their investigations in late 2019 and the AFP recently made three arrests in western Sydney.
They come two months after an alleged fourth syndicate member was arrested in Sydney, when he allegedly tried to import a large consignment of methamphetamine unaware that officers were watching.
Group would set up fake companies
In a joint statement, the AFP and ABF said they will allege that the Sydney-based group set up fake companies using fraudulent identification to import illicit drugs in an air cargo consignment from Malaysia.
Border Force officers found 180 kilograms of methamphetamine (see photo) when they searched a consignment of refrigerated air dryers, which arrived in Sydney from Malaysia in September this year.
Each of the nine metal units allegedly held 20 vacuum-sealed packets, all containing about one kilogram of a white crystalline substance that tested positive to methamphetamine.
Estimated $250,000 in cash found
AFP officers traced the consignment to an address in Sydney and a search warrant was later executed at a residence in the suburb of Chipping Norton, where officers arrested a 28-year-old man.
He was charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely methamphetamine. Investigators seized a phone and fraudulent documents allegedly used to plan the importation and an estimated $250,000 in cash during the search.
Ongoing inquiries resulted in investigators executing search warrants at the homes of three other alleged syndicate members in western Sydney last week.
Illegal firearms and ammunition seized
Police allegedly found a large number of fraudulent identity documents, mobile telephones, two firearms, ammunition and a ballistic vest during the warrants. The three men aged 20, 25 and 30 were each charged in relation to the importation of a commercial quantities of drugs.
Police will allege the trio, and the man arrested previously, worked together to create the false companies and documents that were later used to import the methamphetamine in September.
They then arranged the collection of the methamphetamine from a freight forwarder in Alexandria, an inner-city suburb of Sydney, for later distribution.