Man fined over $37,000 for importing pseudoephedrine

An Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) seizure has resulted in the conviction and fining of a 54-year-old Sydney man in the Downing Centre Local Court yesterday (23 April 2014).

The man was ordered to pay $37,300 in fines and court costs for importing almost three kilograms of pseudoephedrine into Australia via Sydney Airport last year.

On Sunday, 19 May 2013, the man arrived on a flight from Vietnam and was selected for a full baggage examination, after an ACBPS detector dog had a positive reaction to his baggage.

ACBPS officers found the man in possession of six packages containing a number of items, including containers labelled hair cream and ginseng tea. The packages initially tested positive for pseudoephedrine.

After further investigation and the execution of a search warrant at a Westmead residence by the ACBPS, the man was subsequently charged with importing pseudoephedrine without a permit, contrary to section 233(1) (b) of the Customs Act 1901.

ACBPS Regional Commander NSW, Tim Fitzgerald, said the conviction demonstrates the severe penalties of importing illicit substances without a permit.

“Pseudoephedrine is a precursor substance used in the manufacture of amphetamine type drugs,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Customs and Border Protection plays an important role in preventing the manufacture and distribution of illicit drugs by detecting and prosecuting offenders seeking to import these substances.”

The man initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but later changed his plea to guilty. He was convicted and fined $32,300 for importing prohibited imports, and ordered to pay $5,000 in professional costs.

The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of up to $170,000 and/or up to five years in gaol.