Two men charged in connection with alleged import of 800kg meth from Canada

Canadian authorities alerted the AFP that 2900 litres of liquid methamphetamine, concealed in 180 bottles of canola oil, was destined for Australia.

Two Sydney men have been charged with attempting to possess 800kg of methamphetamine destined for Australia in 2023, following an investigation into a global drug trafficking syndicate resulting in the arrest of eight people.

The men, 26 and 34, appeared in the Downing Centre Local Court on 20 February 2024 after they were arrested at Hinchinbrook and Canley Vale in Sydney’s southwest.

Detective Superintendent Jason McArthur said the alleged transnational drug trafficking syndicate posed a national security threat, considering the sheer size of the attempted importations.

“The AFP is one of the key protectors of the way of life for all Australians. We are committed to stopping serious organised crime groups seeking to profit from the harm they inflict on Australian communities.”

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Det-Supt McArthur added:

“These criminals undermine the economy, social security system and financial system in all countries where they operate. The AFP is well-placed to disrupt the criminal elements who wish to traffic border-controlled drugs to our country, with members based in 33 countries and established offshore partnerships with international law enforcement agencies.”

The Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF), launched the investigation – codenamed Operation Parkes – in January 2023 after Canadian authorities alerted the AFP that 2900 litres of liquid methamphetamine, concealed in 180 bottles of canola oil, was destined for Australia.

Victoria Police Organised Crime Division Detective Superintendent David Cowan said the dismantling of the crime syndicate responsible for these attempted importations is a significant win for police globally and for the community.

“There is no doubt that they will take a massive monetary hit as a result of this outcome, which is crucial for us as we work to target these syndicates in any and every way possible.”

Det-Supt Cowan further observed:

“The methamphetamine market is unrivalled in consumption, harm and serious and organised crime involvement compared with other illicit drugs. If that wasn’t enough, the use of methamphetamine contributes to unacceptably high levels of harm in our community through drug driving, drug-fuelled assaults, drug-fuelled family violence and heightened risk-taking.

In total, authorities stopped nearly seven and a half tonnes of liquid methamphetamine, worth about $2 billion, from arriving in Australia in five separate ventures across several months last year.

Police will allege the two men were directed to transport and store what they thought was methamphetamine in locations across western Sydney.

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Police replaced the methamphetamine with a harmless substance before it had been released for delivery in Australia.

The investigation by JOCTF, which comprises the AFP, Victoria Police, Australian Border Force (ABF), and the Department of Home Affairs, was supported by NSW Police and Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group partners.

ABF Acting Commander Maritime and Enforcement South Dan Peters said ABF officers continued to work tirelessly at the border to prevent illicit drugs from hitting Australian streets.

“The illicit drug trade continues to impact upon many Australians, causing immense harm to individuals and families, and the ABF remains determined to detect and disrupt criminal groups from importing illicit substances such as methamphetamine into our country.”

Six men – including the two alleged facilitators of the attempted importations – were arrested in July 2023. They remain before the courts.

The NSW men have each been charged with one count of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, relating to 800kg of methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.5, by virtue of section 11.1, of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

Both men were formally refused bail. The younger man will appear at the same court on 4 March, 2024 while the other man will return to court on 10 April, 2024.

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