Source: Australian Federal Police
This is a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force.
An alleged drug syndicate member attempting to leave Australia has been arrested by Australian Federal Police (AFP) at Melbourne Airport yesterday (Saturday 29 August, 2020).
The 39-year-old man was arrested in connection to 24 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed inside a shipment of treadmills into Melbourne from Thailand in October last year.
The discovery sparked an international operation involving the AFP, Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Royal Thai Police (RTP).
The investigation began following a referral from industry. On 4 October 2019 ABF officers undertook an examination and discovered the illicit drugs inside steel tubing hidden alongside treadmills following the consignment’s arrival into Melbourne.
On 31 October, 2019, AFP investigators executed a search warrant at a South Yarra residence and arrested three people, including an 18-year-old man, a 31-year-old woman and 16-year-old boy.
The trio were arrested and charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, under section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act (Cth) 1995.
In November 2019, as part of joint cooperation under Taskforce Storm, Thai law enforcement seized approximately 176 kilograms of methamphetamine after identifying similar suspicious shipments also containing treadmills inside a Bangkok shipping warehouse. The consignments were destined for Japan.
Two people were arrested as a result Thai law enforcement investigations, a 44-year-old man and a 36-year-old woman.
Taskforce Storm is a joint operational agreement between the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Special Investigations, and the Anti-Money Laundering Office. The Taskforce arrangement allows for joint operations to be undertaken. Taskforce Storm incorporates joint investigations and intelligence exchange to combat transnational crime, including drug trafficking, money laundering, firearms trafficking and serious fraud.
AFP investigators today arrested a fourth person, a Malaysian citizen, who is believed to be connected to this investigation, as he was attempting to leave Australia from Melbourne Airport.
The man has been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, under section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act (Cth) 1995. It will be alleged the accused was attempting to depart the county in a bid to evade police detection and prosecution over his role in the criminal syndicate.
The man faced the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court yesterday (Saturday 29 August, 2020) and will reappear again at a later date.
AFP Southern Command Acting Commander Investigations Jayne Crossling said the Australian Federal Police remained focused on cracking down on organised crime in both Australia and abroad, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This arrest should serve as another reminder that the AFP and its law enforcement partners remain one step ahead of these criminal syndicates,” she said.
“Together with our state, Commonwealth and international partners we continue to target, identify, dismantle and prosecute these criminal groups, along with the individuals associated with them.”
ABF Regional Commander, Craig Palmer, said this outstanding result was another example of the high levels of cooperation between Australian law enforcement agencies and the value of strong connectivity to industry.
“These drugs have a serious impact on families, communities, health and mental health systems. This outcome again demonstrates the highly effective collaborative manner in which the ABF and AFP work together to protect the community from harmful substances like meth.”
Note to media:
Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information:
• For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
• Access free 24/7 drug and alcohol counselling online at www.counsellingonline.org.au.
• For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to www.turningpoint.org.au.
• Anyone with information about the importation of illicit drugs and precursors should contact BorderWatch. By reporting suspicious activities, you help protect Australia’s border, information can be provided anonymously.
AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297