Authorities in Australia seized a haul of drugs worth $156 million in the country’s largest drug busts in recent memory. A record 347.9kg (766.99 lbs) of heroin was discovered in December 2020 following a combined operation by Border Force, Australian Federal Police, and New South Wales Police.
Authorities arrested a 29-year-old man at his residence in Mount Colah on Sydney’s upper north shore as a result of the operation. Officers also raided three separate homes in Miller, Baulkham Hills, Kings Park, and two businesses in Hornsby.
The Mount Colah man is set to face Parramatta Bail Court. He is accused of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of illegally imported border-controlled narcotics. The investigation began when officers targeted air cargo from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on December 23, 2020, which contained two pieces of heavy machinery identified as vertical mixers. In Sydney, Border Force officers discovered two metal cases carrying heroin after X-raying the shipment.
Australian Federal Police officers brought the drugs to the intended destination, a storage facility in Hornsby, with the help of Border Force. Police will allege in court that the 29-year-old man acquired the machinery and attempted to obtain the drugs. Officers said they spent months conducting additional investigations and accumulating information to identify people and sites of interest. The investigation into the criminal organization behind the large import and possible distribution in Australia is ongoing.
AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Morgan Blunden claimed that the impact on the community would have been disastrous if the drugs had reached the streets. Blunden stated, “illicit drug use causes a significant burden to the Australian economy, through crime, loss of productivity, emergency treatment and increased health care cost. Sadly heroin causes many deaths, and this seizure has protected our community from harm. We will continue to work closely with our partners to prevent this harm from occurring.”
Border Force Acting Superintendent Anthony Wheatley believes the smugglers hoped to use the holiday season as cover for their crime. He said, “the offenders involved, given it was over a Christmas period of time, thought that it was an easy way to smuggle drugs through at that period. I want to send a strong message out the Australian Border Force are operating 365 days a year.”
New South Wales Police Detective Superintendent Jason Weinstein stated that the “carnage and destruction that drug (heroin) can put into our community is something this state hasn’t seen for many many years.” He also suggested that citizens report suspected criminal activities and stated that authorities would maintain a zero-tolerance policy for “those bringing harm on others by importing illicit drugs.”