Police foil alleged plot to import 30kg of methamphetamine into WA inside 3D printers | Drugs trade
Two men alleged to be senior members of an international crime syndicate have been charged in Taiwan over an alleged plot to import 30kg of methamphetamine into Western Australia hidden inside 3D printers.
It was revealed on Saturday that a 33-year-old man and a 36-year-old man were arrested in July and October this year after they were noticed by the Australian federal police as part of Operation Ironside.
Operation Ironside was a sting operation between the AFP and the FBI in which they intercepted every message posted via the An0m encrypted communications platform used by crime syndicates over three years from 2018.
AFP assistant commissioner Pryce Scanlan said one of the men came to the AFP’s attention after communications intercepted on An0m allegedly indicated he had coordinated more than 30 methamphetamine importations into Australia in 2020.
“Intelligence indicates he and his syndicate were attempting to import quantities of up to 100kg at a time,” Scanlan said. “We suspect they were operating long before we started monitoring them and were involved in multiple other drug trafficking plots targeting Australia.”
The AFP, working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) then discovered the alleged plot to import 30kg of methamphetamine into Western Australia inside 3D printers.
Law enforcement intercepted the drugs in the US before they reached Australia and the Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau was able to arrest the 33-year-old in New Taipei City in late July.
Taiwanese police then also found a second alleged syndicate member in Taoyuan City and arrested him in early October. The AFP said the 36-year-old man was alleged to be the right-hand man of the 33-year-old.
The men have been charged with illegal transportation of category 2 narcotics and could face life in prison in Taiwan if convicted.
Scanlan said the AFP was still investigating potential alleged links to the syndicate over foiled imports into WA and the investigation was looking at multiple countries, including Australia.
“This organised crime group has caused significant harm to the Australian community for a number of years, as well as causing harm offshore,” he said.
“We allege this operation has taken out two senior members of a TSOC [transnational serious and organised crime] syndicate and disrupted their gateway to import illicit commodities into Australia, which is a significant win for the community.”
The AFP estimates that the 30kg of methamphetamines would have sold for about $45m based on WA prices.