Ironside Operation: Man Imprisoned for 500kg Meth Conspiracy

A Newcastle man has been sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment by Downing Centre District Court today (15 March, 2024) for his role in a conspiracy to import about 500kg of methamphetamine into Australia and for dealing with more than $100,000 of criminal proceeds.

The man, 40, was a key member of a transnational criminal syndicate - with links to the Lone Wolf Outlaw Motorcycle Gang - which imported commercial quantities of methamphetamine into NSW hidden in construction equipment.

The criminal syndicate was dismantled in a joint operation involving the AFP, NSW Police Force and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) in May 2021, as a result of intelligence gained during the AFP-led Operation Ironside.

The Newcastle man was the director of a company which was being used as a front for drug importations as part of the conspiracy.

He communicated with other syndicate members via the encrypted app AN0M and made efforts to present the company as legitimate, including providing an associate with more than $100,000 in criminal proceeds to be deposited into the company's bank account as paid invoices.

The man pleaded guilty in February, 2024 to:

  • Conspire to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code (Cth);
  • Dealing in proceeds of crime, money or property worth $100,000 or more, contrary to section 400.1(1A) of the Criminal Code (Cth).

The man received a sentence of 15 years' imprisonment with a non-parole period of eight years and six months.

AFP Detective Superintendent Kristie Cressy said Operation Ironside enabled law enforcement to monitor serious organised crime syndicates and disrupt their illegal endeavours.

"The information collected during this AFP-led investigation alone stopped the importation of more than 500kg of methamphetamine, which would have caused significant harm to Australian families and communities," she said.

"This investigation demonstrates the importance of the collaboration between the AFP and our law enforcement partners to disrupt attempts by organised crime to import illicit drugs."

Across Australia, 27 people on average were admitted to hospital every day in 2021-22 for methamphetamine-related issues*. That has an impact on the health system that can negatively affect the entire community.

Operation Ironside was a three-year, covert investigation into significant organised crime syndicates using the dedicated encrypted communications device, named AN0M, to traffic illicit drugs and weapons to Australia.

The global sting was enabled by the AFP and FBI. The FBI secretly controlled AN0M, which was distributed and used only by transnational serious organised crime, or those facilitating crime for them. AFP technical expertise allowed law enforcement to obtain and read the encrypted messages in real time.

*Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) might be of the point-in-time nature, and edited for clarity, style and length. Mirage.News does not take institutional positions or sides, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the author(s).View in full here.