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Eight charged, some in Sydney, after airline-linked drug bust

June 7, 2019 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A Sydney airport shuttle-bus driver is among eight people charged following a trans-national investigation that targeted the importation through Sydney Airport of border-controlled drugs by airline passengers and air freight cargo.

The operation has led to the seizure of 61 kilograms of various illicit substances, with a total street value estimated at close to AUD 20 million.

On 25 November 2018, a 37-year-old American woman was charged after allegedly attempting to import 13 kilograms of methylamphetamine (sometimes known as “ice” or “crystal meth”) into Sydney Airport, concealed in boxes of children’s toys.

She was targeted for a baggage examination by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers after arriving on a flight from San Francisco and charged by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers.

In December 2018, several enforcement agencies formed a trans-national joint operation.  The Australian Border Force (ABF), New South Wales Police Force Drug and Firearms Squad, and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Homeland Security Investigations) – launched a joint investigation into the alleged importation of border-controlled drugs via air couriers originating in the US.

On 31 May 2019, a 59-year-old American man arrived at Sydney Airport on a flight from Los Angeles and was targeted for a baggage examination by ABF officers.

During the examination, a small wooden ornamental box was located inside his suitcase. Deconstruction of the box revealed approximately 2kg of a powdery substance concealed inside, which returned preliminary positive results for cocaine.

5 kg of polka-dotted evidence seized by the Australian Border Force

The American was charged by AFP officers at Sydney Airport with importing a marketable quantity of a border-controlled drug, contrary to section 307.2 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995.

On 28 May 2019, an international freight consignment declared to contain candles was intercepted in Los Angeles.

Anomalies were detected within the candles, and following a deconstruction, 2.4 kg of cocaine was seized.

Following extensive inquiries, strike force detectives arrested a 66-year-old man at a Cabramatta West home last Tuesday (4 June 2019).

Shortly after, a search warrant was executed at the home, where detectives seized mobile phones and documents.

The man, who is an airport shuttle driver, was taken to Fairfield Police Station and charged with attempt to import commercial quantity of border-controlled drug.

He was refused bail to appear at Liverpool Local Court the following day.

Latest reports say a further five people have been arrested offshore as a result of the operation, and multiple air cargo consignments have been stopped by Australia’s overseas partners before they could reach Australian shores.

In total, 17 kilograms of cocaine and 44 kilograms of methylamphetamine has been seized.

The Australian Border Force estimates the street value of the 17 kilograms of cocaine as AUD 5.1 million and the 44 kilograms of methylamphetamine as AUD 13.2 million.

Edited by Peter Needham

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