Drug bust stops 15 million ecstasy pills reaching Australia


Eleven people have been charged over the seizure of the MDMA — which police say has an estimated street value of $301.6 million — including a Sydney woman who now faces life in prison.

The investigation was kicked off in January by the Queensland Joint Organised Crime Taskforce, which commenced Operation Parazonium to investigate an organisation allegedly responsible for the importation of large quantities of dangerous drugs into Australia.

The QJOCTF is a multi-agency taskforce comprised of members of the Australian Federal Police, Queensland Police, Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Taxation Office and Australian Transaction Reporting and Analysis Centre.

Dutch police raided 15 locations earlier this month.Source:Supplied

Dramatic footage shows some wielding chainsaws.

Dramatic footage shows some wielding chainsaws.Source:Supplied

They uncovered hidden MDMA labs in the Netherlands and Belgium.

They uncovered hidden MDMA labs in the Netherlands and Belgium.Source:Supplied

In August, the QJOCTF, working with the National Police of the Netherlands, seized 700kg of crystalline MDMA in Rotterdam, which was allegedly bound for export to Queensland.

The NPN then commenced operation 26Camphill, targeting the activities of the Dutch nationals involved in the “sophisticated criminal syndicate”, the AFP said in a statement on Friday.

Search warrants were executed at 15 locations in the Netherlands and Belgium on November 5, uncovering concealed laboratories and 50 tonnes of precursor chemicals for the production of MDMA.

Footage of the raids shows masked Dutch police wielding chainsaws as they raid a rural property where a lab was hidden inside a hay barn.

Authorities seized approximately 850kg of crystalline MDMA, with an estimated street value of $170 million and the potential to be made into around 8.5 million MDMA tablets in Australia.

Dutch police also seized 548 litres of MDMA oil, which is capable of producing approximately 658kg of crystalline MDMA, with an estimated street value of $131.6 million, and approximately 400 litres of precursor chemicals.

The drugs had the potential to be made into more than 15 million MDMA tablets.

The drugs had the potential to be made into more than 15 million MDMA tablets.Source:Supplied

The total estimated street value was more than $300 million

The total estimated street value was more than $300 millionSource:Supplied

Eleven people have been charged, including a Sydney woman.

Eleven people have been charged, including a Sydney woman.Source:Supplied

This quantity of drugs and precursor chemicals has the potential to be made into approximately 6.58 million MDMA tablets in Australia and a further 180kg of methamphetamine.

In total, authorities seized approximately 850kg of crystalline MDMA and 548 litres of MDMA oil from locations in the Netherlands and Belgium, with a total estimated street value of $301.6 million and the potential to be made into more than 15 million MDMA tablets in Australia.

Among the arrested Dutch nationals were two key players, a 58-year-old man who was arrested in Belgium and a 37-year-old man who was arrested in the Netherlands.

The 58-year-old man will be extradited to the Netherlands. The arrested Dutch nationals have been charged by Dutch authorities and are currently awaiting trial in the Netherlands.

A 48-year-old Bass Hill woman was arrested by police in Sydney on November 11 and subsequently extradited to Brisbane where she was charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs.

The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment. She is next due to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on November 29.

Police say the drugs would have been ‘diluted with other contaminants’.

Police say the drugs would have been ‘diluted with other contaminants’.Source:Supplied

“The AFP is committed to working closely with its law enforcement partners here in Australia, through partnerships such as the Queensland Joint Organised Crime Taskforce, and overseas to ensure offenders face considerable consequences for their actions,” AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said in a statement.

“I wish to thank our Dutch counterparts for their expert involvement in this investigation and strong support of our efforts to keep these drugs off Australian shores.”

Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Tracy Linford said operation results were achieved through cooperative international investigations.

“The sad reality is these drugs were destined for our Australian communities to be diluted with other contaminants and then falsely pedalled as a safe drug,” Deputy Commissioner Linford said in a statement.

“They are anything but this, in fact they are made by unsophisticated and unqualified people in clandestine conditions whose priority is not the authenticity of their product but profit.”

Assistant Commissioner Andy Kraag of the Dutch National Criminal Investigations Division said international law enforcement agencies should work closely together.

“We are able to jointly target key players and effectively dismantle criminal networks responsible for the global drug trade,” he said.

ABF Assistant Commissioner Enforcement Command, Sharon Huey said intercepting such a huge quantity of MDMA before it reached the border is a great result in terms of preventing criminal profits and harm to the Australian community.

“The ABF’s technical capabilities and highly trained officers frequently seize different quantities of this illicit and dangerous substance. ABF officers work every day to detect and disrupt these types of criminal operations, no matter how sophisticated they are,” Assistant Commissioner Huey said.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said Australians were a lucrative target for international syndicates because they “will pay above-market prices” and there seemed to be an “insatiable appetite” for drugs.

“It is clear that crime syndicates from Europe, from Asia, from the Americas and elsewhere see Australia as a desirable market where people will pay high prices for drugs,” Mr Dutton told reporters on Friday.

“We need to get a very clear message across, particularly to young adults, that experimenting with these tablets can result in overdoses, can result in death and we need to be much clearer about those messages.”

frank.chung@news.com.au



News

Related posts

Make a comment