How not to bring in $438m of ice

A joint-agency investigation has commenced after methylamphetamine worth more than $400 million was intercepted by law enforcement at the border.
On Saturday 30 March 2019, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers at the Sydney Container Examination Facility examined a container.
It was declared to contain electronic ovens but was found to contain 11 commercial refrigerators. X-rays revealed inconsistencies within their construction.

The refrigerators were unpacked and seven were found to contain a total of 561 packages of white crystalline substance, with presumptive testing returning a positive indicator for methylamphetamine, otherwise known as ‘ice’.
Forensic analysis determined the packages contained a total of 585kg of ice, which has an estimated potential street value of $438 million.
The drugs have since been seized and a joint investigation established by the Australian Federal Police, NSW Police Force’s Organised Crime Squad, and the Australian Border Force.
On Friday 5 April 2019, two search warrants were executed at a commercial premises at Wetherill Park and a home at Edensor Park.
During the searches, officers seized documents relevant to the investigation and electronic storage devices.
Joint investigations under Strike Force Collarene continue.
Anyone with information in relation to organised criminal activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence.

How you can join the Border Force

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has launched an awareness campaign to encourage the Australian community to support the work of the ABF by reporting suspicious or illegal immigration, Customs and border-related activity to Border Watch.
It is critical that the ABF partners with the community — including business and industry — to help keep Australia safe. Reports to Border Watch help the ABF to investigate, detect and stop illegal and dangerous activity, the organisation said.
ABF Assistant Commissioner Strategic Border Command Kaylene Zakharoff said the ABF has seen some extremely positive outcomes thanks to the reports made by industry. These reports have been instrumental in hundreds of seizures of illicit drugs, tobacco, weapons and wildlife, as well as a number of immigration and visa related operational outcomes.
“In just the second half of last year, the ABF received in excess of 21,500 Border Watch reports, which led to over 1.4 tonnes of drugs and precursors being seized,” she said.
Recently, information was received from a customs broker through Border Watch about a sea cargo consignment. The broker noticed several suspicious things about the shipment that raised potential concerns around its stated contents.
The referral to Border Watch resulted in a large seizure of methamphetamine, located within the consignment, with a street value of over $150 million. This seizure prevented the potential manufacture of over 1.5 million hits of ice.
“Business and industry members are often well placed to identify suspicious activities in their industries and local areas. You or your business can play an important role in helping to protect the border, the economy and the safety of the community by reporting suspicious activities to Border Watch. You don’t have to give your name,” Assistant Commissioner Zakharoff said.
The Border Watch program and its predecessors, Customs Watch and Customs Hotline, has a proven track record of more than 20 years of delivering positive outcomes at the border and has become an integral part of the ABF’s information gathering methods.
By continuing to report suspicious activity to Border Watch, you or your business can help the ABF to stop illegal activity.
The types of reports to make to Border Watch relate to:

  • Customs and border-related offences such as drug and precursor imports, revenue/duty evasion, illegal currency movement, movement of weapons and firearms, and imports of illicit tobacco
  • Immigration offences such as people smuggling, illegal work operations, contrived relationships, false statements, visa overstayers and employer sponsor breaches.

If you see anything suspicious, business and industry are encouraged to report it to Border Watch via the industry premium number 1800 06 1800. Alternatively, you can flag it anonymously with Border Watch at www.australia.gov.au/borderwatch  or contact the program via borderwatch@homeaffairs.gov.au.
If you or your business are involved in international trade or transport sectors, you are strongly encouraged to partner with the ABF by joining the Border Watch industry program. To find out more, visit www.australia.gov.au/borderwatch.
 

GHB haul in airfreight

A 32-year-old Lebanese national is to face Sydney Central Local Court after he was charged with attempting to import approximately 15 litres of Gammabutyrolactone (GBL), following a Customs and Border Protection and Australian Federal Police (AFP) operation.
 
GBL is a precursor to the drug Gamma-hydroxybutyrate, more commonly known as GHB and is a prohibited import without appropriate authority under the Criminal Code Act 1995.
 
Customs and Border Protection officers detected the substance in an air cargo package which arrived in Sydney on Sunday 8 March from Hong Kong.
 
During an examination of the package, officers found 12 unlabelled white plastic bottles containing a clear liquid. 
Presumptive testing of the clear liquid indicated a positive result for GBL.
 
The matter was referred to the AFP who conducted a search warrant at a residential address in Bankstown where they arrested the man as he awaited receipt of the parcel.
 
The AFP seized the 15 litres of GBL, which has an estimated street value of up to $300,000.
 
The man was charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled substance under Section 307 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
 
The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $825,000 and/or life imprisonment.

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