Meth importation plans up in smoke! Australian Police interdict 81 kilos of Meth found hidden in meat smokers flown in from Cape Town

Five members of an alleged transnational criminal syndicate operating in Melbourne have been charged following the seizure of 81 kilograms of methamphetamine, which has an estimated street value of more than $60 million.

Operation Jumbuck began on 4 January 2021 after ABF Officers in Melbourne detected an illicit substance inside a consignment of meat smokers flown into Melbourne from Cape Town, South Africa.

Forensic testing confirmed the three boxes contained a total of 81 packages wrapped in blue plastic containing 81kg of methamphetamine.

On Friday 15 January 2021, following an intensive investigation by the Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF), made up of members from the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Victoria Police (VICPOL), Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and Department of Home Affairs (DHA), search warrants were executed in the Melbourne suburbs of St Albans and Sunshine North.

Two men, aged 59 and 50, were arrested and appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on 16 January 2021, where they were remanded in custody.

The 59-year-old St Albans man was charged with importation of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and attempted possession of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug contrary to section 307.5(1) by virtue of section 11.2 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

The 50-year-old Sunshine North man was charged with attempted possession of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug contrary to section 307.5(1) by virtue of section 11.2 of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth)

Additional search warrants were executed this week in the Melbourne suburbs of Maribyrnong and Maidstone, leading to the arrest of three more people; a 28-year-old man, a 57-year-old man and a 48-year-old woman. In excess of $600,000 in cash was also seized. Some of the cash was found hidden in luxury handbags allegedly thrown into a garden when police arrived.

Police also seized approximately 800 grams of suspected amphetamine and heroin, a quantity of unlawfully imported cigarettes, and luxury items including jewelry suspected to be purchased from the proceeds of crime.

The 28-year-old Maribyrnong man was charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of a drug of dependence contrary to Section 71 of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) and remanded in custody to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on 14 April 2021.

The 48-year-old Maribyrnong woman was charged with dealing with proceeds of crime in excess of $10,000, contrary to Section 400.6(2) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and was bailed to appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court on 22 January 2021.

The 57-year-old Maribyrnong man was charged with dealing with proceeds of crime in excess of $100,000, contrary to 400.4(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth) and possession of tobacco products contrary to section 233BABAD(2) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth). He was bailed to appear before Melbourne Magistrates Court on 22 January 2021.

Investigations are continuing.

Acting AFP Commander Jayne Crossling said the seizure was clear warning to criminal syndicates that the AFP and its law enforcement partners remained a step ahead.

“Today we have not only seized a significant amount of methamphetamine, but also prevented the harm it would have otherwise caused in the community,” she said.

“These criminals continue to prey on our community, causing drug-related crime and misery, along with associated health and social costs.

“The amount of money the syndicate could have made from the sale – $60 million – is significant. It is a sad fact that some those who buy drugs can put their habit ahead of putting food on the table for their families or other general living expenses.

“There are many victims of drug abuse. The most heartbreaking is when the most vulnerable are children of addicts.

“This operation shows that the AFP and its partners are tirelessly committed to keeping up the fight to identify, arrest and prosecute those involved in this type of activity.”

ABF Port Operations South Acting Commander Ranj Maharaj, said ABF officers are constantly on alert for illicit drugs crossing the border no matter how they are concealed.

“Our officers use sophisticated targeting methodologies, including using x-ray and detection technology to help identify illicit drugs and other prohibited items crossing the border,” Acting Commander Maharaj said.

“Every day our officers go to work determined to protect the Australian community from these harmful drugs, and detections such as this one demonstrates the contribution they are making.”

Victoria Police Detective Superintendent Jacqueline Curran said we know drugs such as ice continue to be a driver for other crimes, such as property crime, theft, burglaries and robberies, which are often related to funding dependence on the drug.

“Multiple people have been arrested as part of this operation and they now must face the full consequences of their actions” she said. 

“We will continue to work closely with our partners in other law enforcement agencies to target drug traffickers and dismantle drug networks looking to inflict harm upon our community.”