Airline customer service officer charged after industrial machine filled with 200kg of ice intercepted at border

A man has been extradited from Victoria after being arrested at Melbourne International Airport over his alleged role in the importation of $155 million worth of methylamphetamine.

Investigators from the NSW Police Force (NSWPF) State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearms Squad, Australian Border Force (ABF), with assistance from Australian Federal Police (AFP), commenced a joint investigation into the importation of methylamphetamine.

Acting on information from NSWPF investigators, ABF officers targeted a container from the USA for examination on Monday 29 July 2019.

It was x-rayed at the Sydney Container Examination Facility and anomalies were noted in the X-ray image. The container was opened, revealing two large industrial machines inside.

Further investigation of a 15-tonne injection moulding machine, which is commonly used in the manufacture of plastic products, revealed seven plastic garbage bags concealed inside two internal voids.

Within these bags, officers located about 200 clip seal bags containing a white crystalline substance, with a total weight of 207kg.

The substance was tested and returned a presumptive positive result for methylamphetamine, which has an estimated potential street value of more than $155 million.

As a result of extensive inquiries, a 22-year-old man was arrested by AFP officers after he boarded a Singapore-bound flight at Melbourne International Airport on Sunday (4 August 2019).

Police will allege in court that the man travelled under a false name on a domestic flight from Sydney before attempting to leave the country from Melbourne.

Investigators travelled to Victoria, where they applied for and were granted his extradition to NSW yesterday (Monday 5 August 2019).

The man, who is an airline customer service officer, was escorted by detectives on a flight to Sydney and taken to Mascot Police Station.

He was charged with supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity) and import commercial quantity of border controlled drug.

Police will allege in court that the man facilitated the importation of more than 200kg of methylamphetamine.

The man was refused bail to appear at Central Local Court today (Tuesday 6 August 2019).

As part of further inquiries, strike force investigators executed three search warrants at homes in Ingleburn and Cartwright, and a factory in Seven Hills yesterday.

During the searches, police located a floor polishing disk at the Ingleburn home with 80g of heroin secreted inside.

Police also seized 38g of magic mushrooms, 50g of MDMA, numerous electronic devices and documentation.

Joint investigations are continuing.

NSWPF State Crime Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, said the results of joint investigations have disrupted the activities of an international criminal network.

“Our joint investigations have uncovered an international syndicate and we are arresting their facilitators to impact the top levels of the network,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.

“The relationship with our partner agencies insures joint operational activity is cutting into the profits of professional facilitators of crime.”

ABF Investigations Superintendent Garry Low said the operation is another example of the results being achieved by the high levels of joint agency cooperation between Australia’s law enforcement agencies.

“Our partnerships and information sharing continue to lead to large detections and significant operational results,” Superintendent Low said.

“We’re not only detecting drugs at the border, we’re smashing the criminal syndicates involved in their importation.

“My message, once again, to anyone thinking of engaging in this type of activity, is to reconsider. Our wide range of detection methodologies can pick up a concealment however well-hidden criminals believe it is – and industrial machinery is no exception.”

Anyone with information in relation to the importation and supply of prohibited drugs is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

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