Australian authorities have seized the largest heroin shipment ever detected in Australia after intercepting 450kg of the illicit drug inside a container of tiles sent from Malaysia to Melbourne.
A Malaysian national has been arrested following the joint AFP and Australian Border Force operation.
The man was charged on Thursday (14 October) with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drugs and attempted possession of a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
He faced the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday (15 October) and was remanded in custody and is due to next appear in court in January 2022.
The heroin, which has an estimated street value of $140-million, was detected in a sea freight container of ceramic tiles addressed to a Melbourne business.
Almost 1,300 drug packages were found
The shipment arrived at the Port of Melbourne in late September, where ABF officers examined the container and located packages with distinctive red heroin branding. Testing on the substance within those packages returned a result for heroin.
AFP investigators assessed a total of 1,290 packages containing heroin within the shipment. The total estimated weight of 451kg, which is about the same weight as a grand piano, made it the largest onshore detection of heroin in Australia.
The heroin was removed from the shipment and the consignment delivered to an industrial precinct near Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport in early October.
On Friday, officers executed a number of search warrants on business and residential premises.
The AFP’s Acting Assistant Commissioner for the Southern Command, Krissy Barrett, said the AFP had strong and enduring relationships with its international partners in the fight against drug trafficking.
Aussie cops working with Malaysian police
“We have a strong relationship with the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) and in particular the RMP Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department,” she said.
“We continue to work together in identifying and disrupting transnational organised crime syndicates that seek to harm both our nations and generate millions of dollars of profits from criminal activity.”
According to authorities, there is an average of one death in Australia for approximately every two kilograms of heroin consumed.
“It is important to note that in addition to the arrests made, the primary outcome of this operation is the preservation of an estimated 225 lives” Barrett said.
“It is common for drug traffickers to add other substances to heroin to increase the volume and, therefore, make bigger profits. This involves manufacturing heroin with industrial, toxic chemicals that remain in the end product.”