High-visibility disruption operation puts trusted insiders on notice at Sydney Airport

More than 200 crew members from various airlines were subject to a baggage examination, with many more subject to Detector Dog Unit (DDU) screening and additional baggage x-rays.

The Australian Border Force (ABF) and other airport regulatory agencies put trusted insiders on notice this month, as they undertook a high-visibility disruption operation at Sydney International Airport.

Operation AMBROSIA was conducted between Monday 8 April and Friday 12 April 2024, with the aim to conduct a range of overt and covert operational activities in response to potential vulnerabilities at Sydney International Airport, gathering intelligence and securing the supply chain against the threat of trusted insiders.

ABF Superintendent Aviation Traveller, Mal Nimmo, said the execution of this high-visibility operation acted as a disruptor and deterrent to those who may attempt to exploit their positions as trusted employees.

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“Hundreds of people from a wide variety of businesses and government agencies are employed in trusted positions at Sydney International Airport. The ABF and its partners carry out a key role in ensuring these people are upholding their responsibilities in operating in these privileged positions, and do not exploit their access in the airport for criminal purposes,” Superintendent Nimmo said.

“Our message is simple: the safety of international travelling passengers and the Australian community is the ABF’s priority and any crew engaging in this type of activity will face harsh consequences.

“These highly co-ordinated operations can happen on any day, any time and we are committed to working with our partner agencies to disrupt and dismantle organised criminal networks trying to infiltrate our borders.”

Superintendent Nimmo also praised the efforts of all law enforcement and intelligence partners who continue to fight against individuals who seek to test the integrity of Australia’s border.

“The ABF’s capabilities extend beyond what the passenger sees on their way into or out of Australia, we protect the integrity of our border at entry and exit points to our country, with the vast majority of this work not visible to the general public.”

AFP Acting Sydney Airport Police Commander Dom Stephenson said the AFP was committed to targeting and disrupting organised crime syndicates undermining Australia’s national security.

“Crime groups actively try to corrupt people working at our airports because their access to airside operations is an active and efficient way to facilitate the importation of illicit drugs.

“People with trusted access in an airport precinct are critical to the successful operation of Australia’s tourism and trade sectors, but the AFP will not hesitate to investigate and prosecute those who abuse this trust by assisting and profiting from organised crime.”

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The ABF-led operation was supported by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) – Aviation Sydney Airport.

Throughout the course of the operation, Border Force officers attended and inspected 37 flights, examined 25 aircraft boot holds and x-rayed 164 pieces of cargo.

More than 200 crew members from various airlines were subject to a baggage examination, with many more subject to Detector Dog Unit (DDU) screening and additional baggage x-rays.

ABF officers checked more than 450 Aviation Security Identification Cards (ASIC) and 54 bags belonging to additional airport employees were examined.

Further assessments were conducted across the footprint of Sydney International Airport, including aircraft and Terminal Duty Free store checks.

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