Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton, Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and Deputy Premier of New South Wales and Minister for Police Troy Grant today acknowledged the nation’s agencies yet again – particularly the Joint Organised Crime Group (JOCG) – for the exceptional work they are delivering to keep this insidious drug out of our communities.
The sting removed up to 3.6 million hits of ice from Sydney streets, worth an estimated $1.26 billion. The combined seizure of 720 litres of liquid methamphetamine as part of one operation is the third largest methamphetamine bust, by weight, in Australia’s history and one of the more cunning attempts – secreted in implants for women’s bras.
"It builds on the unprecedented cooperation between Commonwealth and State agencies to tackle transnational and cross border organised crime, and is testament to the commitment of our law enforcement officers to crack down on those seeking to profit from the misery of drug addiction," Mr Dutton said.
"This operation would not have occurred without the skill and commitment of the ABF officers who made the initial intervention and developed the intelligence which led to the seizure. They work tirelessly at our borders every day to protect Australians from a range of threats."
Mr Keenan said during this operation the Australian Federal Police (AFP) worked with Chinese authorities through Taskforce Blaze. This critical international cooperation is already paying significant intelligence dividends.
"Blaze was established in November 2015 and is the first joint taskforce between China and Australia specifically targeting the international ice market.
Since December 2015 the AFP with its partner law enforcement agencies has been involved in 11 major drug seizures, dismantling a number of significant crime syndicates. This includes the seizure of over 619kgs of crystal methamphetamine, 100kgs of cocaine, 340kgs of the drug precursor ephedrine, and now, 720 litres of liquid methamphetamine.
"This means that since the start of the year more than one tonne of dangerous and harmful substances have been prevented from entering our community," Mr Keenan said.
Four people arrested in relation to the liquid methamphetamine haul face life in jail.
"This should act as a warning to anyone considering getting involved in importing drugs. If you plan to bring misery and death to our community you will be caught and you will face the full force of our laws," Mr Keenan said.
The investigation into this importation continues.
"I want to assure Australians that the Commonwealth Government has made significant investment in policing our borders and our streets. It is critical that these law enforcement efforts continue.
"But we also know we can be smarter, more coordinated and more targeted in our efforts.
"The 2015 National Ice Taskforce Final Report found that we can achieve this through increased international cooperation, enhanced intelligence sharing, better controls of the precursor chemicals used to make ice and greater efforts to prevent ice reaching our regional and remote communities.
"We will continue these efforts but we have always said that we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem.
"Our nation’s users are ultimately funding organised crime, so we have to tackle demand if our police are going to have a greater impact on supply.
"The biggest blow to the organised criminals who peddle this drug will always be to prevent people from taking it.
"That is why on top of the significant investment the Government has made in policing our borders and our streets to combat the supply of ice; we have also invested almost $300 million over four years to improve treatment, after care, education, prevention, support and community engagement as part of our response to the National Ice Taskforce Final Report," Mr Keenan said.
NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Police Troy Grant said this is the culmination of outstanding and ongoing work by law enforcement agencies in the fight against illegal drugs.
"This bust is a major blow to organised criminals trying to smuggle drugs into our communities.
"I have seen firsthand the devastating effects drugs are having on communities, particularly in regional areas, and the joint work carried out by these agencies means less drugs on our streets.
"I applaud the work of all agencies involved, particularly the NSW Police Force, for their dedication in ensuring these drugs did not make it into the community, and for targeting organised criminals who only care about the money they make, not the lives they ruin.