Thursday, May 30, 2024

250kg of drugs hidden in kitchen benchtops

An Iranian couple has been charged with the alleged importation of approximately 250kg of methamphetamine into Australia concealed in kitchen bench tops – the haul is worth around $187 million.

A Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF) investigation was sparked when Australian Border Force (ABF) detected about 100kg of methamphetamines concealed within a consignment of kitchen bench tops in December.

Police say the bench tops were sent to Melbourne from Iran and destined for delivery to an address in Endeavour Hills, Victoria.

The consignment was allegedly transported by the syndicate to a warehouse in Lakemba, NSW in early January. Police say the warehouse was being used as a clandestine laboratory to extract and process the methamphetamine.

The investigation identified multiple importations allegedly linked to this syndicate, including two consignment containing approximately 60kg of methamphetamine, arriving into Melbourne and Sydney and one consignment of chandeliers which arrived into Sydney containing approximately 30kg of methamphetamine.

Acting Commander of Investigations, AFP Eastern Command, Geoff Turner said law enforcement worked hard over Christmas to keep Australians safe from those trying to profit from dangerous, illicit drugs.

“Australians are among the highest per capita users of methamphetamines and that means we have to be ever vigilant for syndicates that seek to exploit this devastating drug to line their own pockets,” Acting Commander Turner said.

“The flow on effects from the actions of organised crime in our community are real,” he said.

“This investigation uncovered a potentially dangerous clandestine laboratory operating in a Sydney suburb, which we have now shut down.”

The AFP executed search warrants at a warehouse in Lakemba and residences in Blacktown, Merrylands and Doonside on 8 and 9 January 2021, where officers arrested a 30-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman.

They have been charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

This offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Further arrests in relation to the investigation are expected.

“The AFP and its partners are working hard to protect the Australian community by outsmarting organised crime. These arrests show it does not matter when or where criminals operate, they will find themselves the subject of our investigations if they seek to import and traffic in illegal drugs,” A/Commander Turner said.

Acting ABF Commander Port Operations South, Ranj Maharaj, said the detection demonstrated the high level of skill possessed by ABF officers in locating illicit drugs – no matter how sophisticated the concealment.

“No concealment is too tough for our officers, they have seen it all, and have advanced technology at their disposal to identify these illicit substances no matter how criminals try to hide them,” Acting Commander Maharaj said.

“Methamphetamine has a devastating effect on the community every single day. The ABF will continue working closely with its domestic and international partners, to identify and prosecute those involved in attempting to import it into Australia.”

The JOCTF is comprised of investigators from the AFP, ABF, Victoria Police and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), along with members from the Department of Home Affairs.

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