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An operation involving the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Customs and Border Protection (ACBP) and the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) has resulted in the seizure of 174 kilograms of pseudoephedrine with an estimated street value of $46 million and led to the arrest of two people.
A 25-year-old Chipping Norton man and a 44-year-old Bonnyrigg man appeared before Sydney Central Local Court charged with importing and attempting to possess the drugs.
Information from Customs and Border Protection and ACC led to a container at Port Botany being targeted on Monday, 9 August.
The sea container from Vietnam was reported to hold a large quantity of instant noodles, washing liquid and 86 boxes of coffee. Tests undertaken by Customs and Border Protection officers suggested the coffee contained pseudoephedrine – a prohibited substance.
The AFP was alerted, seized the pseudoephedrine and commenced a controlled delivery operation.
On Monday, 16 August, the container was transported from Port Botany to an address in Revesby. The next afternoon the container was moved to a premises in Chipping Norton where it will be alleged the two men unpacked a number of boxes from the container.
A portion of these boxes were then transported to an address in Heckenberg. The AFP arrested the two men after they left the residence. A search warrant on the property resulted in the seizure of boxes from the original consignment.
AFP Sydney office deputy manager Mick Kelsey said the pseudoephedrine was capable of producing more than 130 kilograms of ice. “This seizure of pseudoephedrine has ultimately prevented harmful and dangerous drugs from reaching the community,” he said.
“It is also important to emphasise that the makeshift laboratories set up to process illegal narcotics from these types of chemicals can pose a very real danger to the community and a risk to the environment when the toxic waste material that is a by-product of this process is dumped.”
Customs and Border Protection national manager sea cargo and international mail Graham Krisohos said this was a great example of three federal agencies working together to combat crime.
“Customs and Border Protection is committed to working with partner agencies to stop the importation of precursor chemicals that are used in the production of illicit drugs, and pseudoephedrine is the main precursor chemical used in the production of methamphetamine,” he said.
The two men have been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled precursor, contrary to section 307.11 of the Criminal Code 1995. The maximum penalty for the importation offences is 25 years imprisonment and/or a $550,000 fine.