The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has charged three men, including one Australian and two Malaysian nationals, following the seizure of approximately 360 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine; enough to supply Melbourne with 3.6 million drug hits.
A 36 year old Patterson Lakes man and two male Malaysian nationals, aged 44 and 45, have been charged in relation to Operation TIRIDATES.
The operation began on 8 June 2020, when Australian Border Force (ABF) officers examined a shipping container of furniture, after it arrived into Melbourne via sea from Malaysia.
The container was filled with various types of furniture, but the shipment concealed 18 unidentified cardboard boxes, not listed in the consignment.
Closer inspection showed the boxes were filled with small packages wrapped in aluminum foil. One of the packets was opened and a white crystalline substance was tested, returning a presumptive positive result for methamphetamine.
This quantity of crystal methamphetamine has an estimated potential street value of up to $180 million.
AFP investigators arrested the accused at a Patterson Lakes residential property in the early hours of Wednesday 17 June, 2020.
Investigators then arrested an additional two men, both Malaysian nationals, at a residential property in Melbourne’s CBD.
Additional search warrants were also carried out at addresses in Carrum and Williams Landing, along with a commercial property in Cheltenham.
The trio have each been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.
The Patterson Lakes man has been remanded in custody to face court again at a later date. While the two Malaysian nationals are set to face the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Southern Command Bruce Giles said the seizure would deliver a significant impact to the syndicates which arranged the supply.
“Our enquiries into the exact source of the drugs remain ongoing. We will continue to work closely with our overseas partners to target the criminal syndicates behind this importation and attack the links they have to Australia,” he said.
“These arrests should serve as yet another warning – that even despite COVID-19, the AFP and its law enforcement partners continue to double-down on organised crime, working harder to outsmart the criminal networks in order to dismantle and prosecute them at every opportunity.”
“Had this drug seizure made its way to Australian streets, countless lives would have been affected. Drug users, healthcare workers who deal with drug issues each and every day, and families torn apart from the scourge of illicit substance abuse,” he said.
ABF Regional Commander VIC/TAS Craig Palmer said this detection highlights the good work ABF officers do every day and the results they continue to achieve.
“Criminals continue to find different ways to try to hide harmful drugs, and while concealment methods are getting more advanced, so is the ABF’s ability to detect them,” Commander Palmer said.
“The ABF uses a variety of methods to find illicit drugs, including x-ray, detector dogs and a range of sophisticated substance detection technologies. Our techniques and intelligence is constantly evolving, and so is the dedication and ability of our highly trained officers.”
For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
Editor note: arrest vision is available via Hightail link here (arrest vision of 36 year old Patterson Lakes man).