By Ewen McRae
More than $1 billion of illicit drugs have been seized after a series of raids across the western suburbs uncovered Australia’s largest ever onshore methamphetamine seizure.
Three people have been charged after Australian Federal Police executed warrants at properties in Darley, Sunshine West, Brooklyn, Elwood and Murrumbeena on December 4.
The AFP alleges two men (aged 37 and 38) and a woman (aged 37) were involved in the importation of more than 1.6 tonnes of illicit drugs – equal to almost 16 million drug deals – in stereo speakers originating from Bangkok, Thailand.
In total, 1.596 tonnes of methamphetamine and 37 kilograms of heroin (a total of 1633 kgs) were detected with an estimated street value of $1.197b and $18.5m respectively.
Police say it is the largest seizure of heroin in Australia since 2017.
AFP Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan praised the work of officers in keeping the drugs from reaching the community, and said the seizure was a warning to those seeking import illicit drugs into Australia.
“Australian law enforcement agencies are committed to combatting the hold organised crime has on Australia to keep dangerous drugs off our streets and out of our homes,” he said.
“Australia is a lucrative market for drug traffickers only due to the amount of drugs consumed by the public and the price paid for those drugs. This is a social problem that is the responsibility of everyone to address.“Police will continue to protect our communities and borders against exploitation by sophisticated criminal networks, but it is the responsibility of everyone to educate and support each other to stop the high use of drugs we see in Australian society.”
Border Force officers detected the drugs in vacuum sealed bags within the speakers, after x-ray technology detected anomalies inside the speakers.
The three people have each been charged with two counts of importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
As part of the operation, AFP officers have also shared intelligence with Thai authorities, who are currently conducting their own investigation.