Police arrest three after seizure of $675 million worth of ‘ice’

Drug and Firearms Squad detectives have charged three men following the seizure of almost 750kg of methylamphetamine allegedly imported by a criminal syndicate within marble stone slabs.

Earlier this year, detectives attached to the State Crime Command’s Drug and Firearm Squad commenced Strike Force Chellington to investigate the importation of illicit drugs into NSW.

Acting on intelligence, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers examined a number of sea cargo containers which had arrived into Port Botany, Sydney, from the United Arab Emirates last month.

During a subsequent deconstruction of the consignment, it was found to contain 748kg of methylamphetamine concealed within marble stone.

The estimated potential street value of the methylamphetamine is more than $675 million.

Strike force investigators seized the drugs and commenced further investigations.

Following extensive inquiries, strike force detectives, assisted by North and South West Metropolitan Operation Support Group (OSG), executed search warrants at Burwood, Campsie, Strathfield, Strathfield South, and Homebush, from 6am yesterday (Wednesday 17 August 2022).

Two men – aged 24 and 26 – were arrested at a unit in Burwood and taken to Burwood Police Station.

Around 11.30am, police stopped a red Mazda 3 as it left a hotel at Sydney Olympic Park and spoke with its occupants – two Victorian men aged 34 and 40 – before searching the vehicle.

The younger man was subsequently arrested and taken to Auburn Police Station, while the older man was released pending further inquiries.

Throughout the police operation, detectives seized prohibited drugs, numerous electronic devices and documents that will undergo further forensic examination.

The 24-year-old, 26-year-old and 34-year-old men were subsequently charged with import commercial quantity of border-controlled drug and take part supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity).

They were refused bail to appear at Burwood Local Court today (Thursday 18 August 2022).

Investigations under Strike Force Chellington are ongoing.

Drug and Firearms Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent John Watson, said police will allege the import was the work of a highly resourced and well-equipped criminal group.

“We will be alleging the activities that these men undertook both before and after the fact indicate they were well schooled in what they were doing and aware of the risks of law enforcement,” Det Supt Watson said.

“These syndicates have no regard for the safety of others and as we’ve seen this week; use any means necessary to create illicit wealth and fund further criminal enterprises.

“This seizure, and the dismantling of this group, is the result of our strong partnerships and each agency’s rigorous pursuit of those who seek to exploit the community for their own benefit,” Det Supt Watson said.

ABF Superintendent Joanne Yeats, Detained Goods Management, said criminal syndicates still believe the more creative they get, the more likely they will be to succeed.

“The seizure is a message to all organised crime groups, that it doesn’t matter how sophisticated your concealments are, our ABF officers will find it,” Supt Yeats said.

“Our officers continue to demonstrate their skills and expertise when it comes to detecting the importation of illicit drugs, no matter what method of concealment the organised crime groups use.”

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

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