JOINT: Eight charged after joint operation targets international drug trafficking by airline passengers

Eight people have been charged and 61kg of illicit substances seized after a joint agency investigation targeting the importation of border-controlled drugs by airline passengers and air freight cargo.

On 25 November 2018, a 37-year-old American woman was charged after allegedly attempting to import 13 kilograms of methylamphetamine into Sydney Airport, concealed in boxes of children’s toys.

She was targeted for a baggage examination by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers after arriving on a flight from San Francisco and charged by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers.

In December 2018, a joint operation was formed between the Australian Border Force (ABF), New South Wales Police Force Drug & Firearms Squad, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, to investigate the alleged importation of border-controlled drugs via air couriers originating in the US.

On 31 May 2019, a 59-year-old US National arrived at Sydney Airport on a flight from Los Angeles and was targeted for a baggage examination by ABF officers.

During the examination, a small wooden ornamental box was located inside his suitcase. Deconstruction of the box revealed approximately 2kg of a powdery substance concealed inside, which returned preliminary positive results for cocaine.

He was charged by AFP officers at Sydney Airport with importing a marketable quantity of a border-controlled drug, contrary to section 307.2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

On 28 May 2019, an international freight consignment declared to contain candles was intercepted in Los Angeles.

Anomalies were detected within the candles, and following a deconstruction, 2.4 kg of cocaine was seized.

Following extensive inquiries, strike force detectives arrested a 66-year-old man at a Cabramatta West home just after 12.30pm yesterday (Tuesday 4 June 2019).

Shortly after, a search warrant was executed at the home, where they seized mobile phones and documents.

The man, who is an airport shuttle driver, was taken to Fairfield Police Station and charged with attempt to import commercial quantity of border-controlled drug.

He was refused bail to appear at Liverpool Local Court today (Wednesday 5 June 2019).

A further five people have been arrested offshore as a result of this operation, and multiple air cargo consignments have been stopped by our overseas partners before they could reach Australian shores.

In total, 17kg of cocaine and 44kg of methylamphetamine has been seized.

The 17kg of cocaine has an estimated street value of $5.1 million, and the 44kg of methylamphetamine has an estimated street value of $13.2 million.

Anyone with information about the importation of illicit drugs is encouraged to report it to BorderWatch by visiting australia.gov.au/borderwatch.

Information with information in relation to organised criminal activity is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/

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