Man arrested for importing meth in labelling machine

A 32-year-old US citizen is scheduled to appear before Sydney Central Local Court today, charged with importing 14.9 kilograms of methamphetamine in a labelling machine.

The man was arrested in Kensington, Sydney yesterday by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers.

The investigation began on 24 March 2014, when Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) Air Cargo officers examined a consignment originating from Mexico. The consignment consisted of a metal ‘Packaging System’ labelling machine.

Australian Customs and Border protection service officers performed an x-ray and physical examination of the machine. Located inside a number of foil bags in the machine was a white crystalline substance, which tested positive to methamphetamine.

The consignment was handed over to the AFP for further investigation and forensic analysis. Concealed inside 17 of the heat sealed foil bags in the base of the labelling machine was approximately 14.9 kilograms of methamphetamine.

The consignment was not a functioning labelling machine and appeared to have been constructed for the sole purpose of concealing border controlled drugs.

AFP investigators commenced a controlled delivery operation and subsequently executed a search warrant at a property in Kensington.

During the search warrant AFP officers located the consignment, which had been accessed, cash and mobile phones.

The man was arrested and charged with attempt to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to Section 307.5, by virtue of section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995. The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for life, and/or a fine of up to $1,275,000.

The estimated street value for 14.9 kilograms of methamphetamine is AUD $7.45 million.

AFP Manager Crime Operations Jennifer Hurst said the AFP remains vigilant about combating drug importation.

“The AFP will continue to work with our partner agencies to stop illicit drugs from entering the community,” Commander Hurst said.

ACBPS National Manager Cargo Operations Jagtej Singh praised the ACBPS officers that detected the consignment and the excellent follow up work undertaken by the AFP.

“Our officers are alert to creative methods to conceal illegal drugs. We will continue to work with partner agencies to ensure importers of illegal drugs are caught,” Mr Singh said.