South Australia man charged with Fentanyl importations

Hands in handcuffs

The South Australian Joint Agency Ice Strike Team (JAIST) has charged a 56-year-old Middleton man with allegedly importing multiple consignments of Fentanyl into Australia.

In March 2019, Australian Border Force (ABF) officers detected a package containing a powder weighing approximately half a gram. Initial testing of the substance returned a presumptive positive result for Fentanyl. As a result the matter was referred to the JAIST for an investigation.

The investigation led to ABF officers detecting and stopping six other imports of Fentanyl at the border. The additional importations resulted in an approximate total quantity of 4.8 grams of Fentanyl.

Yesterday (11 July 2019), JAIST officers executed a search warrant at the man’s Middleton residence and arrested him for drug importation offences.

Police will allege in court the man purchased the illicit drugs through the Dark Web.

The man has been charged with multiple counts of importing a controlled drug without a commercial intent, contrary to section 307.4 of the Criminal Code Act (Cth). The maximum penalty for each count of this offence is two years imprisonment or a fine of $84,000, or both.

AFP Coordinator Operations, Detective Acting Superintendent Andrew Rogers said the importation of Fentanyl, particularly through our postal service can be extremely unsafe and potentially fatal to parcel handlers and innocent bystanders.

“This investigation should be a lesson to those individuals and groups attempting to import these drugs into Australia. The AFP and its JAIST partners will target you and will stop you from causing harm to our communities,” AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Andrew Rogers said.

South Australia Chief Inspector Tony Crameri said there have been a number of deaths in South Australia and nationally / internationally suspected to be linked to the drug. Traditionally, fentanyl is used as a pain-relief drug in the treatment of severe chronic pain associated with surgery or cancer. It is a commonly prescribed pharmaceutical analgesic that is safe to use when prescribed by a medical practitioner and used according to their direction.

“Police remain extremely concerned about the emerging use of illicit fentanyl which can be absorbed through skin contact, inhalation or ingestion. Contact with even a minute amount of fentanyl carries a significant risk of accidental opioid overdose. Police want to remind the public that any suspected opioid overdose requires urgent medical assistance,” Detective Chief Inspector Crameri said

ABF Enforcement Operations Superintendent, Steve Johnson, said this was another example of Federal and State law enforcement officers working together to protect the Australian community from illicit, and in this case, extremely dangerous, drugs.

“Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid analgesic so dangerous the ABF has implemented a range of enhanced safety measures to protect our officers who have the challenging role of detecting and managing attempted imports of these drugs,” he said.

The man was bailed to appear before Adelaide Magistrates Court on 14 August 2019.

For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services, call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.

The South Australian Joint Agency Ice Strike Team (JAIST) is a South Australia Police led multi agency team comprising of members from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Australian Taxation Office (ATO), Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC).

The JAIST actively pursues the movement of illicit drugs, including methamphetamine (ice) manufactured overseas, interstate or in the state of SA for distribution.

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