A shipment of ice worth more than $100 million has been seized in a major joint investigation between Australian and Chinese authorities.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) were tipped-off when their Chinese counterparts seized more than 100 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine hidden in a shipping container bound for Sydney.
The drugs were hidden in the floor of the container underneath a consignment of steel which was due to leave Yantian Port in China’s Guangdong Province.
Australian authorities tracked the empty shipping container to an address at Revesby in south-west Sydney, where they arrested a 22-year-old Fijian national.
Two other men, a 38-year-old Australian national and a 42-year-old Hong Kong national, were also arrested and all three have been charged with drug importation offences.
Detective Acting Superintendent Luke Needham from the AFP’s Organised Crime unit said the importance of joint investigations between China and Australia could not be underestimated.
“We have a very unique partnership with Chinese law enforcement via Taskforce Blaze,” he said.
“They provide an enormous amount of intelligence to Australian law enforcement for us to conduct our enquires here in Australia.
“Since the inception of Taskforce Blaze in 2015, there has been over 7 tonnes of drugs and precursors prevented from hitting the streets of Australia.”
Another two men — a Chinese national and a Hong Kong national — were arrested in China.
Intelligence sharing crucial for fighting organised crime
Police here say the joint operation, and other intelligence sharing agreements between China and Australia, has allowed them to strike at the heart of organised criminal groups.
AFP Regional Commander Tim Fitzgerald said it allowed Australian authorities to target crime syndicates in their source countries.
“What you’re seeing is border force agencies, law enforcement agencies working the border continuum,” he said.
“They’re working before the border, they’re working at the border and they’re working after the border as a group to target these syndicates.”
Detective Superintendent Scott Cook from the NSW Police Organised Crime Squad said drugs were just one of the illicit commodities organised crime groups trafficked across borders.
“Money is their end game — at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what the commodity is,” he said.
“It’s not just about the seizures and it’s not just about the drugs — it’s about the money laundering, it’s about the ancillary offences, it’s about the harm it causes the community.”