The arrival of a male and female couple into Sydney International Airport from Lebanon last month sparked an investigation by the Australian Border Force (ABF) into the importation of 17 undeclared ballistic vests.
Investigations last week led to the execution of warrants, in conjunction with NSW Police, in Sydney. The ABF uncovered “performance and image enhancing drugs”, a flick knife, two air pistols, and an amount of illicit tobacco.
The warrants were executed at addresses in the Sydney suburbs of Ashcroft and Greenacre, as part of the ABF investigation into the importation of 17 undeclared ballistic vests, also known as bulletproof or bullet-resistant vests, flak jackets or body armour.
The investigation began on 15 June 2015 when a couple arrived from Lebanon, via Dubai.
Acting on information provided by ABF intelligence analysts, ABF officers at the airport subjected the male passenger to a targeted baggage examination. Inside his baggage, officers found 15 undeclared ballistic vests “and one black hoodie featuring the Shahada”.
The Shahada is a Muslim statement of faith meaning: “There is no god but God and Muhammad is the prophet of Allah.”
Two more vests were located by ABF officers in unaccompanied baggage.
The ballistic vests were seized under the Customs Act 1901 and ABF investigators began looking into the importation.
Assistant Commissioner Investigations, Steve Lancaster, said that the ABF stands ready at the border to protect Australia from organised crime and terrorism.
“As this operation shows, the ABF can successfully undertake end-to-end operations targeting known threats before, at, and after they move through the Australian border,” Lancaster said.
“By using intelligence, the ABF can target threats to our border before they arrive in Australia; highly trained officers at the border then undertake skilled searches to uncover even the most sophisticated of concealments.
“As this operation shows, ABF work does not stop at the physical border and those involved in illicit importation can also expect a knock on the door from an ABF Investigator.”
The maximum penalty associated with the importation of undeclared ballistic vests is a fine of AUD 170,000; investigations into this matter continue.
Those interested can view footage of the ABF raid here: http://newsroom.border.gov.au/videos
Edited by William Sykes