Gold Coast Man charged over ‘liquid fantasy’ hidden in cleaning supplies and skincare products

A Gold Coast man accused of importing about 120 litres of Gamma-Butyrolactone (GBL) into Australia has been charged by the Queensland Joint Organised Crime Task Force (QJOCTF).

The GBL was detected inside plastic bottles labelled as “cleaning supplies,” “skincare products” and “fishing gear” and has a total estimated street value of $450,000.

Investigations began in November 2020, after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers in Sydney and Melbourne examined several air cargo consignments of plastic bottles. The bottles contained a clear liquid substance, which tested positive to GBL.

A 37-year-old Clear Island Waters man was arrested by AFP and Queensland Police Service (QPS) officers yesterday (3 February 2021) and charged with six counts of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug under the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.

The man is due to appear in Southport Magistrates Court today (4 February 2021).

AFP Detective Acting Inspector Scott Curtis said investigations into the importation remain ongoing.

“GBL is a dangerous substance, normally an industrial chemical solvent found in paint strippers. It is highly-addictive and can result in users slipping into comas, or even death,” Detective Acting Inspector Curtis said.

“Our investigations into who is behind this importation are just getting started. We will be targeting anyone trying to make money from putting the lives of Australians at risk.”

ABF Commander Operations QLD, Chris Waters said the arrest was another great example of the high level of cooperation between Australian law enforcement agencies.

“These criminals tried to use multiple importations to circumvent the Australian border, but through our joint efforts we have been able to detect the drugs and effectively disrupt this syndicate,” Commander Waters said.

“Our approach at the border is multi-layered, using highly trained officers and state of the art technology. My message to those who think they can import these harmful substances is, we will catch them and they will face the full force of the law.”

Queensland Police Service’s Detective Superintendent Colin Briggs from the Drug and Serious Crime Group said the arrest highlighted the effectiveness of strong law enforcement partnerships.

“This collaboration is critical to combating organised crime that crosses jurisdictions and in preventing harmful drugs from making their way into the community,” Detective Superintendent Briggs said.

The QJOCTF is a multi-agency task force involving the AFP, QPS, ABF, Department of Home Affairs, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and Australian Transaction Reporting and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). The role of the QJOCTF is to target and disrupt serious and organised criminal threats adversely impacting upon the state of Queensland and Australia.

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