Joint media release with AFP, NSW Police and NSW Crime Commission
Joint investigation results in Australia’s largest recorded Ice seizure - 28 February 2013
The Joint Organised Crime Group (JOCG) has seized 585 kilograms of methamphetamine (Ice) worth up to $438 million and arrested three people in relation to the record haul.
This is the largest single seizure of Ice in Australian law enforcement history and almost doubles the previous record seizure of 300 kilograms in July 2012.
The JOCG is a joint taskforce comprising Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, NSW Police Force, the NSW Crime Commission (NSWCC) and the Australian Crime Commission (ACC).
Over half a tonne of drugs was seized in Sydney during the operation, as police executed six search warrants across Sydney which included properties in Regents Park, Bexley North, Wakeley, Canley Heights, Beverly Hills and Ryde.
The AFP and NSW Police Force arrested a 21-year-old Australian national, a 32-year-old Singaporean national and a 51-year-old Hong Kong national in relation to the seizure yesterday (27 February), when attempting to take possession of the drugs.
All three alleged offenders are expected to face Sydney Central Local Court today.
The three have been charged with a range of offences including:
- Three counts of attempt to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to section 307.5 of the Criminal Code 1995.
The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment and/or a $1,275,000 fine.
In September 2012, the NSW Police’s Asian Crime Squad and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service received information relating to a man possibly involved in a drug importation into Australia. As a result of this information, the JOCG commenced an investigation into the planned import of illicit drugs into Australia.
In February 2013, Customs and Border Protection identified four sea cargo consignments linked to the investigation. Following an extensive examination, on Friday 22 February 38 plastic bags containing a crystalline substance concealed in six one tonne bags marked as the cleaning chemical sodium metabisulphite were located.
The crystalline substance tested positive for methamphetamine.
AFP Commissioner Tony Negus said the syndicate showed an understanding of law enforcement methodology and went to considerable lengths to escape detection.
“This operation demonstrates that the AFP and its partners have the capability to detect and dismantle the most sophisticated organised crime groups,” Commissioner Negus said.
Customs and Border Protection Chief Executive Officer Michael Pezzullo said that disrupting the trade in illicit substances was a joint effort.
“These arrests were the result of solid intelligence, professionally shared between law enforcement agencies.”
“By sharing intelligence we close the net tighter on these criminals, no matter how elaborate their concealments or how developed their enterprises,” Mr Pezzullo said.
NSW Police Force Commissioner Andrew Scipione said this investigation is a perfect example of how an investigation can start with one law enforcement agency, and expand to include multiple agencies working together to prevent prohibited drugs from reaching street level.
“Our Asian Crime Squad first began investigating this matter in September last year, and carried out vital investigative ground work.”
“As the sheer scale and complexity of this operation became apparent, we quickly involved our partner agencies. Our combined resources and talents have resulted in what is clearly a very significant seizure of drugs, and the arrests of people we will allege were involved in importing them to Australia,” Commissioner Scipione said.
NSW Crime Commissioner Mr Peter Hastings QC said this outcome is a tremendous result originating from a small piece of intelligence gathered by the NSW Police’s South East Asian Crime Squad and developed in consultation with the NSWCC and partner agencies into the largest seizure of Ice in Australia's history. It is a clear demonstration of co-operative professional law enforcement.
Enquiries are continuing and the AFP has not ruled out further arrests.
AFP National Media (02) 6131 6333
Customs and Border Protection Media (02) 6275 6793
NSW Police Media (02) 8835 9387
NSW Crime Commission (02) 9269 3805
Media note: Images of the seizure are available in the image gallery on the Customs and Border Protection website. Please attribute images to: Australian Customs and Border Protection Service.