PARRAMATTA, Western Sydney, NSW, Australia - A 17-year-old boy appeared in Parramatta Children's Court on Friday on charges relating to the importation of 490 kilograms of methamphetamine (ice) worth more than a third-of-a-billion dollars.
The boy is one of two teenagers arrested following a joint operation over the past two weeks.
The 490kgs of ice have been seized by law enforcement agencies and will never hit the streets.
The operation began a little over two weeks ago on 28 November 2018 when the Australian Border Force (ABF) identified and searched a container that arrived at Port Botany from Malaysia.
During the search, anomalies were identified in three crates, which were found to contain dozens of car bonnets. Upon further examination, ABF officers located a crystalline substance inside the skin of the bonnets. The substance was tested and gave a positive indication for methamphetamine.
The detection was referred to the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
AFP crime scene investigators subsequently identified 4,970 packages within 71 car bonnets. The methamphetamine, which totaled an approximate weight of 490 kilograms, was seized. The estimated street value for the drugs is $367.5 million.
Following a number of enquiries, AFP officers conducted investigative activities to identify the intended recipients of the drugs.
Last Friday 7 December 2018, a number of search warrants were executed in the Sydney suburbs of Granville, Rhodes and Penshurst. Police arrested the 17-year-old boy, and and another teenager, 19, during the operation.
It will be alleged in court that the two teenagers were to receive the shipment before passing it on to other members of the criminal syndicate responsible for the importation.
Further enquiries to identify other members of the syndicate are ongoing, and the AFP says it is liaising with the Royal Malaysia Police to identify the source of the shipment. The AFP is asking for anyone with information about the matter to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
"Had this drug seizure made its way to Australian streets, countless lives would have been affected. It could be users, health care workers that deal with drug issues each and every day, or the family that has been torn apart when deaths occur from illicit substance abuse," AFP Detective Acting Superintendent Kristie Cressy, Coordinator Organised Crime Sydney said Friday.
"Police know better than most the heartbreaking impact of drugs like ice on our community. In stopping almost half a tonne of these dangerous drugs reaching our streets, countless families and friends have been saved from being torn apart by illicit substance abuse."
ABF Regional Commander NSW, Danielle Yannopoulos, said the detection demonstrated the expertise of ABF officers in locating illicit drugs – no matter how sophisticated the concealment.
"Whether it be in car bonnets, clothing, meat mincing machines or even highlighters, our officers have seen it all, and they have sophisticated technology at their disposal to identify these illicit substances no matter how criminals try to hide them," Commander Yannopoulos said Friday.
"Methamphetamine, or ice, has a devastating effect on the community every single day, and the ABF will not stop working to identify and prosecute those involved in attempting to import it into Australia."
Both teenagers faced Parramatta Bail Court last Saturday 8 December 2018, charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine. The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.
Whilst the 17-year-old appeared in Parramatta Children's Court on Friday, the 19-year old Granville man is next scheduled to appear on 6 February 2019 before Sydney Central Local Court.