Australian Border Force (ABF) intercepted a sea-cargo with two crane jibs on its way to Adelaide. On further investigation, it was found that, one of the jib arms contained 313 clip seal bags containing a white crystalline substance. This was later identified as crystal methamphetamine (ice).
Forensic testing confirmed total weight of the drugs sized at 313 kilograms with an estimated street value of $270 million. This is the largest haul of the drug destined for South Australia. No custom broker from Adelaide is identified with this importation.
The investigation was carried out by members from Australian Federal Police (AFP), South Australia Police, Australian Border Force (ABF), Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, AUSTRAC and the Australian Tax Office. Investigation was successful due to joint efforts and continuing cooperation between all agencies involved.
AFP, ABF and South Australia Police executed three search warrants in the Adelaide suburbs of Waterloo Corner, Green Fields and Two Wells. Three men were arrested at the Waterloo Corner address and were charged with attempted possession of a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border-controlled drug. Two out of the three were charged with importation of a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs. This has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Organised Crime and Cyber Neil Gaughan said the government agencies are well equipped and ready to check drug trade and will ensure drugs will never reach the streets of Adelaide and spread their devastating effects.
South Australia Police Assistant Commissioner Scott Duval said that this operation is a great example of cooperation between national and state law enforcement and intelligence agencies. Positive outcome of this is crushing organised crime syndicates that attempt to profit through the trade of crystal methamphetamine. He also said that a record number of drugs have been seized which were brought in for the streets of South Australia and other states. The involvement of an Adelaide customs brokerage has not been identified at this stage.
Fraudulent foreign media credentials – Indian national arrested
An Australian Border Force (ABF) Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) in Bangkok felt a group of nine traveler on transit through Thailand may not be genuine travelers. These nine landed in Brisbane Airport on 28 March 2018, holding Temporary Activity Visas, claiming to be accredited media representatives.
ABF officers questioned them on arrival in Brisbane found eight to have fraudulent foreign media credentials. The ninth person had valid travel document. On interrogation, it was found that it was this person who had arranged for the fraudulent documents and other travel assistance.
For this, the 46-year-old Indian national has been charged and arrested with offences under the Migration Act 1958. The charges are for people smuggling, after allegedly facilitating the travel of a fake media contingent to attend the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
Charges include: one count against Section 233C of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) – Aggravated offence of people smuggling (at least 5 people) and one count against Section 234A(1)(c) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) – Aggravated offence of false documents and false or misleading information etc. relating to non-citizens (at least 5 people). For these offences the maximum penalty can go up to 20 years in jail.
Police will allege in court that the 46-year-old Indian national who did hold valid credentials was facilitating the group’s travel. Since the case do not involve importation of goods, involvement of any Adelaide based customs brokers is unlikely.
Terry Price, ABF Regional Commander Queensland, said that while the ABF will ensure smooth entry for legitimate Commonwealth Games visitors, attempts to exploit the event and Australia’s visa program will not be tolerated. Anyone found not to be here for legitimate purposes can expect to have their visas cancelled and to be turned around.
He also said that ABF have a skilled network of ALOs at key overseas international airports. They can identify travellers of concern and stop them travelling. They also will provide real time information to alert colleagues onshore.