Members of a joint law enforcement taskforce have arrested and charged a 35-year-old Melbourne man in connection to the seizure of 34 kilograms of illicit drugs from an alleged ‘safe house’ in the Docklands area of the city in January.
Investigators arrested the Malaysian national at his apartment. He is thus the fourth person charged with serious drug offences as a result of the joint taskforce investigation, codenamed Operation Trento.
On January 22, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria Police officers seized 13.3 kilograms of methamphetamine and 20.8 kilograms of the border-controlled precursor methyl alpha-phenylacetoacetate (MAPA) from a Docklands apartment.
It is being alleged in court that the apartment was leased by a criminal syndicate exclusively to store imported drug consignments.
Operation commenced after another shipment intercepted
The methamphetamine seized by detectives in January has an estimated street value of $8.3-million dollars. Police will allege the MAPA chemicals are used to create methamphetamine.
Operation Trento commenced in October 2020, after authorities intercepted a separate shipment of almost eight kilograms of methamphetamine imported into Victoria. This amount of methamphetamine has an estimated street value of $5-million.
The methamphetamine was hidden inside water filters and was detected by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers, before the investigation was referred to Joint Taskforce Icarus.
Three Malaysian nationals have already been charged with drug importation offences in relation to Operation Trento and remain in custody while the matters progress through the courts. Police have also seized approximately $153,000 in cash from the alleged criminal syndicate during the operation.
Multiple agencies are tackling criminal drug syndicates
AFP Commander of Investigations, Todd Hunter, said Joint Taskforce Icarus was an excellent example of the collaborative efforts of Commonwealth and state law enforcement agencies to tackle criminal syndicates attempting to import harmful illicit substances into Australian communities.
“We know that for approximately every kilogram of methamphetamine sold on the streets, a person requires emergency treatment,” Hunter noted.
“And, sadly, there is a death of someone in our community for approximately every 26 kilograms of methamphetamine used. We are determined to prevent this serious harm to the community.”
Joint Taskforce Icarus comprises members of the AFP, Victoria Police and ABF. It investigates high-volume drug importation and trafficking offences in the Victorian jurisdiction.