If pressed into tablets, the powder could have produced more than three million tablets of the “destructive drug” also known as ecstasy, Australian Federal Police (AFP) acting assistant commissioner Justine Gough said today.
It’s the second biggest MDMA seizure made in Sydney. Five people have been charged in relation to its importation and intended distribution and are now before the courts.
Authorities waited weeks to pounce after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers detected “anomalies” within a shipping container that arrived from South Korea on January 11, bound for a storage facility in the inner west suburb of Camperdown.
“An examination by the ABF found a number of pallets laden with 648 plastic tubs labelled as tile adhesive,” the AFP said in a joint statement with the ABF and NSW Police today.
“Within 176 tubs of adhesive were bags of a powder that presumptively tested positive to the presence of MDMA.
“Each tub contained approximately 6kg of MDMA powder. The total weight of the substance seized from the shipment was 1053kg.”
Acting Commander Garry Low said this shipment was targeted by the ABF as a result of intelligence from the Department of Home Affairs.
Police swapped the MDMA for an “inert substance” and the container was delivered to its intended address on January 29, when it was received by a 27-year-old Canadian national.
The man, who was renting a property in Rooty Hill in the city’s west, met up with another Canadian national, also 27, on February 5. He had arrived in Sydney the previous day.
“It will be alleged in court that over the next month, both men periodically travelled into Camperdown to extract portions of the substituted powder from the consignment and prepare it for further distribution to Australian-based customers,” police said.
The two men met up with a 29-year-old man from Kingsford to allegedly hand over the drug. Police allege he was responsible for a wider Sydney drug ring for sales on Australian streets.
Last Friday, police targeting the alleged recipients of the fake MDMA raided properties in Carlingford, Wentworth Point, Cabramatta West and Cabramatta.
Substances believed to be MDMA, cocaine and methamphetamine were seized along with two loaded firearms, electronic devices, fake identification, ammunition and $250,000 in cash.
About 110 tubs from the shipment were found at the Rooty Hill rental. The two Canadians are facing life in prison if convicted after being charged with attempting to possess and importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs.
They faced Sydney’s Central Local Court today along with the 29-year-old man from Hong Kong who is also facing three drug trafficking charges carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
A 22-year-old man from Cabramatta West and a 26-year-old man from Carlingford were charged with drug and ammunition offences and remanded in custody, to reappear in court in April and May respectively.
Assistant Commissioner Gough said the AFP was working closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Korean authorities and other offshore partners to identify where the MDMA came from and who directed it to Australia.