$324 million drug bust uncovers Methamphetamine hidden in protein powder in Sydney, Australia, from the United States
March 9, 2017
METHAMPHETAMINE with a street value of $324 million has been seized in Sydney’s west.
Seven men and one woman have been charged in relation to the drug bust, the result of a joint operation between federal police and border control.
All eight of the accused, each charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of the drug, have been refused bail.
Australian Border Force officers intercepted a sea consignment from the United States that included 396 plastic protein-powder bottles on February 27.
The contents were tested positive as meth, weighing in at 540 kg.
Forming Operation Cosmosus, Border Control and Federal Police officers began a controlled operation, culminating in the delivery of the drugs to a unit in Smithfield on Monday night.
Soon after delivery, seven men, all aged between 20 and 31, arrived at the premises, and allegedly began handling the drugs and were arrested without resistance.
Police also raided properties in Breakfast Point, Belfield, Strathfield, Fairfield West, Bankstown, Elizabeth Hills, West Hoxton and Green Valley and allegedly found five firearms including an SKS assault rifle, ammunition, and a Glock handgun — a NSW Police standard-issue weapon.
A 23-year-old woman was arrested at a Green Valley address where police allegedly found 4kg of meth, 200 ecstasy tablets, cocaine and $35,000 in cash.
She was charged with attempting to traffic a commercial quantity of a controlled drug as well as possession.
AFP Commander Chris Sheehan said the bust would be within the top 10 largest in Australian history but those arrested were not well-known to police.
He said overseas organised criminals were targeting Australia because of the lucrative market.
“There’s no specific criminal, geographic, ethnic or other group that I would attribute them to,” Mr Sheehan said.
“Australians are still paying top dollar for their drugs here.
“Those drugs would not have been detected but for the work of the ABF (Australian Border Force) and there is every likelihood those drugs would have made their way into the community but for their excellent investigation.”
Police are hoping for more arrests.
Border Force regional commander Tim Fitzgerald says the meth seizure came after 4kg of cocaine were discovered in vitamin bottles shipped from the US last May.
An analyst then made a link between the shipping container, its origin and the method of disguise.
Mr Fitzgerald said the arrests continued an “outstanding” six-month period of drug intercepts during which more than 5 tons of illicit substances were stopped from hitting the streets.
Although the latest drug haul was sent from the US, the possibility it was manufactured in Mexico was one of the lines of investigation being pursued, he said.
Regions in South America and China have also been identified as large suppliers to the Australian market.