300kg ephedrine seizure smashes criminal syndicate in Sydney

Two people have been arrested after a joint operation between the Australian Border Force (ABF) and New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF) culminated in raids on ten homes across Sydney in relation to the attempted importation of more than 300kg of ephedrine.

Additionally, nine people identified as being unlawful non-citizens have been detained as a result of warrant activity.

In March 2016 the ABF began investigating multiple imports of ephedrine from China and identified links to an organised criminal network of Chinese nationals operating in the south western suburbs of Sydney.

The ABF will allege the syndicate is responsible for importing in excess of 300 kilograms of ephedrine, the largest ephedrine seizure since the ABF was stood up in 2015.

This amount of ephedrine could make up to 240 kilograms of ice which equates to a street value of $240 million.

The ephedrine was concealed within 50 individual consignments intercepted by the ABF between March 2016 and February 2017.

The concealments were highly sophisticated and included:

• Vehicle radiators
• Tool boxes
• Wall hangings
• Portable cooler

On 28 February and 1 March, ABF officers and NSWPF Drug Squad commenced search and seizure warrants at ten premises.

Two men from Campsie, aged 29 and 26, were arrested and charged with importing a Tier 1 good, namely ephedrine, in contravention of Section 307.11 of the Criminal Code.

Both men appeared before court on 1 March 2017. The 29-year-old was remanded in custody while the 26-year-old, who was identified as an unlawful non-citizen, was bailed and taken into immigration detention. The men are scheduled to re-appear before Burwood Court on 26 April 2017.

The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $900,000.

ABF Regional Commander NSW, Tim Fitzgerald said the success of this joint operation is a testament to the collaborative relationship with law enforcement partners.

“There is no doubt this is one of the more sophisticated smuggling attempts we have seen, but through a mix of multilateral intelligence, highly trained officers and world class border screening technology, we have ultimately stopped a large amount of drugs making it onto the streets,” Commander Fitzgerald said.

NSWPF State Crime Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Ken Finch, said the investigation demonstrates the unique challenges in combating the supply of ‘ice’ in NSW.

“In order to control the supply and availability of ice, we must monitor the importation of precursors, as well as the drug itself,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Finch said.

“The key to our success lies in maintaining strong relationships and continuous information sharing with our partners.”

People with information about the illicit importation of substances should call Border Watch on 1800 061 800. By reporting suspicious activities, you help protect Australia’s border. Information can be provided anonymously.