Record busts: Organised crims caught with illicit drugs

 

Coronavirus may have changed the world of Australians in 2020 but not the crime world with the AFP Eastern Command alone seizing a record 22.4 tonnes of drugs.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Eastern Command Justine Gough said seizures were double this year, from January 1 to December 1, than last year with busts in every crime category rising.

"We have seen criminal syndicates attempting to import commercial quantities of illicit drugs through various methods from drugs hidden in hydraulic cylinders to banana pulp with drug seizures increasing 113 per cent from 10.5 in 2019 to 22.4 tonnes in 2020," she said of the NSW command.

 

Two people were arrested in Western Sydney and an estimated 600 litres of liquid methamphetamine concealed inside cans of coconut milk was seized this year. It came to Sydney from Thailand.
Two people were arrested in Western Sydney and an estimated 600 litres of liquid methamphetamine concealed inside cans of coconut milk was seized this year. It came to Sydney from Thailand.

 

"However, as creative as these syndicates get, the AFP and our partners quickly adapt to their changing methodologies."

One major seizure in 2020 was Operation Romani, which saw five people arrested in April and July for their alleged roles in a criminal conspiracy to import approximately one tonne of methamphetamine into Australia via a yacht.

The AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) had also achieved results with $32 million worth of assets from criminal entities retained in NSW, a 183 per cent increase since last year.

 

A 27-year-old from Seaforth, is arrested by Australian Federal Police attached to Operation Arkstone. Picture: AFP
A 27-year-old from Seaforth, is arrested by Australian Federal Police attached to Operation Arkstone. Picture: AFP

 

AC Gough commended staff members for their adaptability in responding to COVID-19 challenges to ensure operational outcomes were not impacted.

"We have seen our airport team's pivot from protecting travelling Australians at Sydney Airport to being involved in one of the largest co-ordinated efforts to assist bring Australians home and into quarantine," she said.

"The number of search warrants obtained from the Downing Centre alone show the high tempo our investigators have committed to this year, with 346 warrants on persons, premises and vehicles obtained in 2020, which is more than double the amount from 2019."

In this period the NSW command also laid more than 1000 child exploitation related charges including the infamous Operation Arkstone and mass abuse in a child care centre.

Originally published as Record busts: Organised crims caught with illicit drugs