Year’s biggest ‘ice’ shipment hidden in fridges
EXCLUSIVE: Border agents and police have raided two Western Sydney properties over a mammoth $438 million shipment of crystal methylamphetamine - the largest shipment of the drug seized this year.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal Australian Border Force officers detected 585kg of methamphetamine, or "ice", stuffed inside refrigerators in a container that arrived at Port Botany from Singapore on March 30.
The shipment, uncovered by the ABF's Container Examination Facility, was labelled "electronic ovens". But officers noticed there were, in fact, 11 commercial fridges inside.
The machines were X-rayed to reveal "inconsistencies within their construction".
ABF acting regional commander Garry Low said the cartel, with suspected links to the Fairfield area, had simply jammed the 561 packets of ice in the back of seven of the fridges. "The concealment itself was fairly crude. The refrigeration components at the rear of the fridges had been removed and simply replaced with packages of methylamphetamine," Mr Low said.
"Over the past year, we have found illicit substances in everything from highlighters to meat mincing machines. No matter how you try and hide it, ABF officers have the expertise and technology to find it."
On Friday, Strike Force Collarene - now including state and federal police - raided a commercial premises at Wetherill Park and a home at Edensor Park, seizing documents "relevant to the investigation" and electronic storage devices.
The shipment had been ordered from Singapore, with the fridges due to be delivered to an address in Western Sydney.
NSW Police Organised Crime Squad Commander, Detective Acting Superintendent Damian Beaufils, said the seizure was proof of the overwhelming demand for ice in Australia.
"Organised criminal groups operate with profit as their priority and the unwavering demand for illicit drugs makes Australia an extremely lucrative market," Supt Beaufils said.
"It's our job, along with our partners, to seize drugs at every opportunity and target those attempting to bring these poisons into our country."
Police calculate Sydney ice users would have paid street dealers $750,000 for each kilogram of the shipment, had it made it through the port.
Rates of dealing or traffic in amphetamines have soared across the state for a decade, tracking the rise in use of the devastating drug ice.
Incidents have risen 11 per cent a year on average for 10 years in NSW, with Sydney seeing an annual 14 per cent increase.