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Airport busts: Melbourne cocaine, Sydney ephedrine

March 1, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Australian Border Force officers continue to make regular seizures of drugs at Australia’s main airports, with two big hauls last week.

The latest seizures were cocaine in Melbourne and ephedrine in Sydney. Ephedrine, a drug first isolated in 1885, can be used to create methamphetamine (nicknamed crystal meth, or ice) using chemical reduction.

A 34-year-old Australian man is due this week to appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court, charged with importing about 5kg of cocaine through Melbourne International airport.

The food packages in which the ephedrine was concealed. Australian Border Force

After arriving on a flight from Italy last night (23 February 2017), Australian Border Force (ABF) officers selected the man for a baggage examination.

ABF officers will allege they identified a piece of plywood inconsistent with the construction of the man’s suitcase. The suitcase was then x-rayed with anomalies detected.

ABF officers then deconstructed the suitcase, revealing a white substance behind the plywood partition.

Initial testing of the substance returned a positive result for cocaine. Further forensic testing will be conducted to determine the exact weight and purity of the substance.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers attended and arrested the man, later charging him with drug importation and possession offences.

The estimated street value of the cocaine is AUD 1.63 million. These charges carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

ABF Regional Commander Victoria, James Watson said that this seizure is another example of the good work carried out by our officers every day at the airports across the country.

“This seizure demonstrates the capacity of ABF officers on the frontline to identify and disrupt the importation of drugs into Australia,” Commander Watson said.

In Sydney, meanwhile, a 58-year-old Cabramatta man appeared before the Central Local Court last Wednesday charged with importing about 8kg of ephedrine through Sydney Airport.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers identified the man when he arrived at Sydney International Airport on a flight from Vietnam last Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

The officers examined the man’s luggage which contained bags of food items, including items such as curry and coffee. When the officers opened the bags of food they discovered they contained a white powder. Testing of this powder returned a positive result for ephedrine.

Ephedrine is a border controlled drug and is used as a precursor agent in the manufacture of illegal amphetamine substances, such as ice.

ABF investigators arrested the man and he was taken to Mascot Police Station and charged with one count of intentionally importing prohibited tier 1 goods, contrary to Section 233BAA(4) of the Customs Act 1901.

During the court appearance the charge was upgraded to one count of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled precursor, a charge which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment.

Acting Regional Commander NSW Jim Beach said ABF officers must be constantly alert to the threat of attempted illicit drug importations at Australia’s airports.

“The ABF continues to see attempts to import illicit drugs into Australia and once again ABF officers have been up to the task of detecting these drugs before they can cause harm in the Australian community,” Acting Regional Commander Beach said.

“The ABF is constantly on alert at Australia’s borders and, in cooperation with our law enforcement partners, we continue to use intelligence and specialist detection techniques to combat the threat of illicit drug importation on a daily basis.”

ABF investigators are continuing enquiries into the circumstances surrounding this case.

Edited by Peter Needham

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