Second largest drug bust in Australian history by police
Posted on November 30, 2014 | By Henry | Leave a response
WHAT DOES A FEW TONNES OF ECSTASY & METH LOOK LIKE?
Major haul: NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin with a quarter of the drugs seized in the operation. Photo: Daniel Munoz
Australian police have seized about 2.8 tonnes of illicit drugs worth an estimated $1.5 billion in the second-biggest bust in the country’s history.
Six men aged between 23 and 34 were arrested and charged with serious drug importation offences following the major police operation.
The seized drugs included 1917 kilograms of MDMA (ecstasy) and 849 kilograms of methamphetamine (speed and ice). It was the single largest seizure of ice in the nation’s history and the second-largest of MDMA.
“By any measure, this is an enormous seizure of illicit narcotics,” Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.
“It’s also a bold attempt by organised crime to target this country with large illicit narcotic importations.”
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the bust revealed “organised crime at its worst” and “law enforcement at its best”.
The narcotics were shipped to Australia from Hamburg, Germany, in a single consignment and arrived on November 19, police alleged. Delivery of the container was tracked, first to Blacktown and then to Smithfield, both in western Sydney.
The six men were arrested early Saturday morning when they were found accessing boxes from the consignment in Smithfield, police said.
An international investigation had been underway for several months leading to the detection of the consignment at the NSW Container Examination Facility at Port Botany. The Joint Organised Crime Group – involving the AFP, NSW Police, Customs and the Crime Commission – had worked with the German federal police, the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and its partners in the investigation.
The six men charged were Australian residents aged but Mr Colvin would not comment on whether they were known to police or affiliated with motorcycle gangs and other crime syndicates.
The investigation was only in its early stages and police were confident of making more arrests following the execution of search warrants this weekend.
“You can’t import nearly three tonnes of narcotics in this country without a large and sophisticated operation,” Mr Colvin said.
“This obviously has linkages overseas that will take us, I’m sure, into Europe and parts of Asia.”
The drugs were hidden inside a sea cargo container packed with personal effects and furniture, Customs and Border Protection Service chief Roman Quaedvlieg said. Authorities will work with international counterparts to determine the provenance of the drugs and the shipping container.
Each kilogram of crystal methamphetamine represented 10,000 street deals of ice, Mr Colvin said, while two tonnes of MDMA was enough to supply 10 million individual ecstasy tablets. The 2.8 tonnes of narcotics represented more than half of the total amount seized by Australian customs officials in 2013.
Mr Scipione said the record seizure underlined the continuing demand for illegal narcotics. He said the death of 19-year-old Georgina Bartter earlier this month after a suspected bad reaction to ecstasy at a Sydney music festival was a reminder of the dangers of the substance.
“The amount of drugs that we consume as a nation is something that is disturbing,” he said. Police dealt daily with the “agony” caused by the drug trade, including overdoses, domestic violence, shootings and motor vehicle accidents, he said.
Intercepted in Sydney, the drugs would likely have been destined for locations across the country. Australian Crime Commission chief executive Chris Dawson said he was particularly concerned about the growing problem posed by ice in remote areas.
“This is a national problem. It has gone beyond the cities, it is now right across the towns,” he said.
In a joint statement, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison and Justice Minister Michael Keenan praised law enforcement agencies and said the arrests marked a “landmark day” in the fight against drugs and organised crime.
NSW Premier Mike Baird noted the drugs were being imported in the lead up to the summer party season and said the seizure had potentially saved lives.
“This was a bust of epic proportions and thankfully, none of these drugs will see the light of day,” he said.
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