Australian police have uncovered a major organised crime syndicate responsible for importing more than $20 million worth of illicit drugs into Australia using an international airline cabin crew as couriers.
Eight people have been arrested in Melbourne over the past fortnight in relation to the bust.
It’s alleged the group smuggled at least 6kgs of high-grade heroin and 8kgs of methamphetamine into the country from Malaysia over a five-month period.
Police have described the group as “a well organised syndicate we know had operated across Australia undetected for many years”.
“Would-be criminals should be aware that any attempts to bring these drugs into the country will be met with the full force of Australian border and law enforcement agencies, before, at and after the border,” Australian Border Force Regional Commander Victoria, Craig Palmer said.
“Airline staff are not above the law. They are subject to intervention at the border like everyone else and face significant penalties if they are found to be using their positions to attempt to circumvent our border controls.”
The joint investigation was carried out by the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Victoria Police and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
Police had been conducting search warrants on various properties in Melbourne since January 8.
Police provided this timeline of the arrests and charges:
- A 38-year-old woman was arrested in Tullamarine on 7 January and charged with one count of importing a marketable quantity of border controlled drugs;
- A 47-year-old woman was arrested in Abbotsford on 8 January and charged with traffic commercial quantity of controlled drugs and import commercial quantity of border controlled drug;
- A 55-year-old man was arrested in Southbank on 8 January and charged with traffic commercial quantity of controlled drugs and import commercial quantity of border controlled drug;
- A 42-year-old man was arrested in Melbourne on 8 January and charged with trafficking a marketable quantity of controlled drugs;
- A 26-year-old man was arrested in Sunshine North on 8 January and charged with traffic a marketable quantity of border controlled drugs;
- A 30-year-old man was arrested in Sunshine North on 8 January and charged with traffic of controlled drugs and dealing with proceeds of crime;
- A 46-year-old woman was arrested on 8 January in Abbotsford and charged with traffic a controlled drug; and
- A 47-year-old Richmond woman was arrested in Richmond on 14 January and charged with import commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, traffic marketable quantity of controlled drugs, and traffic controlled drugs.
All eight have appeared before Melbourne Magistrates Court with six remanded to appear again on 15 May. The others were bailed to appear again on the same date.