Illicit drugs found in hand sanitiser bottles

Australian Border Force (ABF) officers in Sydney have stopped almost two kilograms of methamphetamine, hidden in COVID-19 related goods, from being smuggled into Australia.

On 6 May 2020, ABF officers at the Sydney Gateway Facility inspected a package sent from Canada which was described as containing medicine and clothing. Officers opened the package and found boxes of face masks and bottles of hand sanitiser.

A further inspection revealed the package had a false bottom which contained a black vacuum sealed bag. The crystal-like substance inside the bag tested positive to methamphetamine. The package contained one kilogram of the drug.

On 8 May 2020, a second consignment from Canada was examined by ABF officers at the Sydney Gateway Facility. The second package also contained boxes of face masks and two bottles of hand sanitiser. A crystal-like substance was found inside the second set of hand sanitiser bottles. It was tested and returned a positive result for methamphetamine. A total of 800 grams of the drug was found inside the two bottles.

ABF Superintendent for International Mail, Cargo Clearance & Systems Support John Fleming said ABF officers are on the look-out for anyone trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to smuggle drugs into Australia.

“We know criminals will go to any length to smuggle drugs into the country, so it’s no surprise they’re trying to use in-demand items such as masks and hand sanitiser to hide them in,” Superintendent Fleming said.

“Criminals should know our efforts to secure our border have not stopped because of COVID-19. Sea containers are still being examined and items being sent through the mail centre or air cargo are still being screened. We are continuing to detect and stop illicit substances coming into Australia, no matter how they’re being concealed.”