Suspicions about luggage at Melbourne Airport have led to three men being arrested and charged for allegedly importing more than 70 kilograms of illicit drugs hidden in luggage. Police say the drug haul is one of the biggest ever seen at an Australian airport.
Three Malaysian nationals arrived in Australia last Sunday on a flight from Kuala Lumpur. A subsequent examination of the men’s luggage by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers identified anomalies and further analysis by Australian Federal Police (AFP) Forensics determined that an estimated 55kg of methamphetamine and 18kg of heroin were concealed within the suitcases.
The potential street value for this quantity of drugs is AUD 36.8 million and AUD 10.1 million respectively, an AFP statement said. Other analysts estimated the combined total at close to AUD 50 million.
On Monday, AFP officers conducted a controlled delivery of the suitcases to a hotel in Melbourne.
Three men were subsequently arrested by the AFP.
Two of the men were charged with:
- the importation of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth),
- attempting to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, contrary to section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
(Cth stands for Commonwealth, by the way.)
The two men appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court yesterday and a third man is expected to be charged soon.
AFP Acting National Manager Crime Operations Paul Osborne praised the efforts of the AFP and ABF members for identifying the importation and acting quickly to bring about a resolution.
“This was a brazen attempt to smuggle in a quantity of drugs that could have caused immeasurable harm in the community,” acting Assistant Commissioner Osborne said.
“The AFP will continue its work with partner agencies to cut off the supply of drugs by syndicates that seek to profit from the addiction and misery of others.”
ABF Acting Commissioner Michael Outram said this detection is due to the commitment and skill of ABF officers, and the targeted approach used at our international airports.
“This seizure represents one of the largest seizures in Australian history through an Australian international airport, which proves law enforcement agencies are working harder than ever to keep drugs out of our community.”
“Today we have successfully taken an enormous and unprecedented portion off the streets of Victoria and the effects of this great seizure will be seen far and wide across the Australian community,” Outram said.
Edited by Peter Needham