Record huge haul: 900kg of ice worth $900m found in Chinese floorboard shipment
Posted on April 6, 2017 | By Henry | Leave a response
Authorities are calling it Australia’s largest seizure of ice, and the drugs – all 903 kilograms of it – was found in floorboards.
The drugs, which police say are valued at almost $900 million, were seized when a suspect shipment of floorboards from China was found in a nondescript warehouse in Melbourne’s outer east. The drugs had been hidden between the wooden slats.
It’s believed a Chinese organised crime syndicate was behind the importation and it was likely bound for crime syndicates for distribution across the country.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the seizure showed that ice was still being used in epidemic proportions.
“This is the biggest single seizure of ice in Australia’s history,” Mr Keenan said.
“This ice shipment would have resulted in millions of single drug deals, with every single hit potentially taking a life, destroying a family and devastating a community.”
Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association chief Sam Biondo said seizures like it, while a win for police, barely makes a dent in the number of Australians consuming the drug.
“On the surface it looks like an incredible haul, but we can’t forget that this comes on the back of many other incredible hauls, and it’s very clear that while the police are putting in a significant effort into these activities, it’s very easy for the masterminds behind this to factor these interventions into their business models,” he said.
“We need to consider the broad range of activities to address drug activity in the community.”
Most of the haul was uncovered on February 6 at a warehouse in Business Drive, Nunawading, where it was hidden inside 70 boxes sent from China and went through Melbourne’s ports.
“We didn’t get to that warehouse by mistake,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan said.
“It’s good work, not good luck.”
He said the AFP provided intelligence to Victoria Police’s clandestine laboratory squad in January, which led to 12 search warrants in Blackburn North and South, Box Hill North and Doncaster.
Two men – a 53-year-old from Blackburn and a 36-year-old from Doncaster – described as “significant players” by Victorian police have been charged and face court in June.
Police have released images of another two men, believed to be in their 30s, who frequent the Box Hill area. Police also hope to identify the owner of a white Nissan coupe seen parked outside the warehouse.
Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg said generally, ice manufactured in China is stockpiled by syndicates who organise the drugs to be taken off the wharf, warehoused and wholesaled.
“The wholesaling could be to Middle Eastern organised crime groups, it could be to anybody…The recipient would be across a wide range of organised crime groups,” he said.
He said Chinese groups, who traditionally dealt in ice, have diversified in the last 12 months, tapping into a cocaine supply route from South America.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana said 1.7 tonnes of ice – or “17 million hits of misery” – had been seized by the joint AFP and Victorian police taskforce in Victoria this year. That’s not including, he said, the ice seized by Victorian police outside of the taskforce.
“For those people who don’t get addicted or don’t suffer, they’re still contributing to organised crime in this country,” Mr Fontana said.
Victorian Police Minister Lisa Neville said more investment needed to be made in drug rehabilitation services. She said $103 million had been invested by Victorian government, while Mr Keenan said the Federal Government had invested $300 million to improve law enforcement, treatment, education and prevention.
“This is a lethal drug causing significant harm,” Ms Neville said.
“To reduce the demand is as critical as reducing the supply.”
Police are searching for these men seen in the Box Hill area after the drugs were seized. Photo: MCGUIRE, Liam