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Australia’s second largest cocaine seizure – estimated street value of half a billion dollars

1.28 tonnes of cocaine were seized in Sydney with an estimated street value of half a billion dollars. This is the second-largest in Australian history – the largest being 1.4 tonnes of cocaine seized as a result of a joint operation conducted by the AFP and ABF in February 2017.

Operation Amorgos that led to the current seizure started in April 2017. The identification of the consignment started with the interception by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers of a container of pre-fabricated steel at Sydney from a source country via China. It is not known if any customs brokers from Sydney were engaged to add credibility to the importation of the consignment.

Investigation by ABF officers found out 2576 blocks of cocaine weighing 1.28 tonnes concealed within the pre-fabricated steel.

Deconstruction and analysis of the cocaine conducted by AFP forensic chemists said the cocaine had a purity of around 78 per cent.

The success of this tenacious nine-month investigation is attributed to the cooperation of law enforcement and border protection agencies worldwide, including the ABF and New Zealand Police.

In January this year, three Australian nationals were arrested in Serbia. Arrest was done by officers of Service for Combating Organised Crime, Ministry of Interior, Republic of Serbia in cooperation with the Prosecutors Office for Organised Crime of the Republic of Serbia. The arrest was for their suspected links to an organised crime syndicate which was responsible for the importation of the 1.28 tonnes of cocaine to Australia.

According to Stephen Dametto, AFP Detective Superintendent, worldwide network of Operation Amorgos gives AFP the leverage in targeting organised crime syndicates operating globally. Along with this AFP investigators worked closely ensuring cooperation of international partners to identify an organised crime syndicate.

Richard Chambers from New Zealand Police (Investigations), said police forces of both countries are working together in curbing drug trade. He also added that Operation Amorgos has prevented a significant quantity of drugs entering the marketplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WA JOCTF seized 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine – largest ever drug seizure in Western Australia

 

The Western Australian Joint Organised Crime Task Force (WA JOCTF) charged eight men after the seizer of 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine on the west cost of Australia. This is the largest ever drug seizure in Western Australia.

Along with Department of Home Affairs, WA JOCTF involves the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Western Australia Police Force, Australian Border Force (ABF), AUSTRAC, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

Drugs arrived in marine vessel, the Valkoista, at the Port of Geraldton, WA in December 2017. It is not known if services of any custom broker from Sydney was used to complete formalities for the vessel. The drugs were then offloaded into a white hire van.  Police officers intercepted the van and arrested the three occupants, a 33-year-old man from southern Sydney and two men from New South Wales aged 38 and 52. They also arrested three crew members of Valkoista a 45-year-old man from the NSW Central Coast and two men from South Australia, aged 48 and 44.

From the vehicle the police seized fifty-nine bags containing approximately 20 kilograms of methamphetamine. In addition, 20 kilograms of methamphetamine was recovered from the vessel. Street value of this 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine is estimated at $1.04 billion.

After impounding the vessel and the vehicle, search warrants were conducted at residential properties in Sydney, the NSW Central Coast, and Adelaide. As a result, two men from South Australia, both aged 37, were later arrested at a hotel in Hillarys in northern Perth.  The involvement of any Customs brokers in Perth, Adelaide and/or Sydney is yet to be established.

They were charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, contrary to subsection 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). Those arrested from the van were charged with possessing drugs unlawfully imported, contrary to section 307.8 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). Accused can face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Chris Dawson, Western Australia Police Commissioner said the success of this operation is due to joint effort of WA Police and National partners in the Joint Operational Crime Task Force.

 

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