A 31-year-old man from Port Neill was arrested for importation and distribution of numerous border-controlled drugs via the dark net. The modus operandi was to buy various types of border-controlled drug and sell it in the retail market.
The arrest was following a detailed investigation undertaken by Australian Border Force (ABF) and South Australia Police (SAPOL). Investigation team comprising of ABF and SAPOL officers executed several search warrants at residential properties in Adelaide and the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia.
In the course of executing warrants at various locations, Australian Border Force (ABF) and South Australia Police (SAPOL) team seized many border-controlled items. The list includes 910 doses of an amphetamine type substance, 380 LSD doses and 72 capsules and 15 grams of MDMA.
During the raids the team also seized many types of powders and liquids. According to the team members these items were raw maters and could be used for the manufacture of illicit drugs. Involvement of an Adelaide customs brokers in the imports is unlikely – but has not been ruled out – since the purchase of the items are from the dark net.
The man was arrested for an offence contrary to section 307.2 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). Under this section the man has been charged with importing a marketable quantity of border-controlled drug. Australian Border Force (ABF) and South Australia Police (SAPOL) team will press for charges against the accused including 14 counts of trafficking in a controlled drug contrary to section 32 of the Controlled Substances Act.
According to Craig Palmer who is ABF Acting Commander Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrest showed the serious efforts Australia’s law enforcement authorities are taking to curb illicit drug importation from dark net websites. In a joint effort with other law enforcement agencies ABF is targeting those people who think they can illegally purchase and import illicit goods online. According to ABF officials the man arrested could face a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $900,000 for offences committed and charged.
Multi country agency teamwork – 1.4 tonnes cocaine seized
An investigation involving law enforcement agencies from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and France has resulted in the seizure of more than 1.4 tonnes of cocaine. This was seized from Elakha, a sailing vessel from which the two crew members – a 63-year-old New Zealand man and a 54-year-old dual Swiss/Fijian national were also detained under the Maritime Powers Act 2013 (Cth).
The joint operation was the result of close cooperation between Australian Federal Police (AFP), New Zealand Customs Service (NZCS), Organised Financial Crime Agency of New Zealand (OFCANZ), the Fijian Transnational Crime Unit, French Polynesian authorities and Australian Border Force (ABF). On the basis of this operation, six men aged between 32 and 66 have been charged with serious drug importation offences.
AFP was provided information by NZCS about a conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs into Australia in the year 2014. This led to the monitoring of Elakh, a sailing vessel going from New Zealand to a ‘mothership’ in the South Pacific Ocean to collect drugs. In the operation that followed HMAS Bathurst intercepted Elakha and Maritime Border Command (MBC) personnel boarded the vessel.
They found out black bags containing a large quantity of blocks which proved to be cocaine on testing. This consignment of cocaine weighing approximately 1422 kilograms (1.4 tonnes) is estimated to have a street value of approximately $312 million. Since this is smuggling operation, involvement of a regional Adelaide customs broker is possible but unlikely. Total of six men were arrested in this connection and were charged under different section of the law. These charges can attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment or 7500 penalty units or both.
The investigation was conducted over a period of two-and-a-half years and its success was due to the tenacity and dedication of the investigators involved. This also shows the effectiveness of cooperation between local and international law enforcement agencies.