Melbourne man charged over 500L meth import

A Melbourne man – with alleged links to Middle Eastern organised crime – is expected to face the Melbourne Magistrates court today (Thursday, 6 April, 2023) over the importation of 500 litres of methamphetamine, which was seized by authorities.

The AFP arrested the Fawkner man, 43, yesterday (5 April, 2023) following an investigation launched after Australian Border Force officers (ABF) found the illicit drugs concealed in a shipping container of food products.  

ABF officers identified anomalies in plastic barrels of white vinegar imported into Melbourne from Türkiye on 8 February, 2023. The vinegar bottles were packaged in a larger shipment of food products originally sent from Northern Iraq to Türkiye, before arriving in Melbourne.

Testing of the liquid allegedly returned a positive reading for methamphetamine and ABF officers alerted the AFP.

AFP officers identified that 25 barrels of the consignment, each containing 20 litres of liquid, contained methamphetamine.

The total volume of the methamphetamine was determined to be 500L, which has an estimated street value of $41.6 million. Further forensic examination is ongoing to determine the purity of the seized drugs.

AFP investigators removed the illicit drugs and under Operation Bruce, delivered a harmless substance to an address in Clayton. Yesterday, police executed search warrants at residences in Fawkner and Bentleigh East where the 43-year-old was arrested.

The man was charged with:

  • Importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth); and
  • Attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.5 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

These offences carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

AFP Detective Superintendent Anthony Hall said methamphetamine was the most highly consumed illicit drug in Australia and caused immense psychological, financial and social harm to users and those around them.

“Across Australia, 33 people on average were admitted to hospital every day in 2020-21 for methamphetamine-related issues*,” Detective Superintendent Hall said.

“The seizure demonstrates the importance of collaboration between law enforcement partners, the AFP is working tirelessly with partners to disrupt attempts by organised crime to import large quantities of illicit drugs into Australia and profit at the expense of the community.

“The illicit drug supply chain is littered with violence and had this amount of methamphetamine made its way to Australian streets, it would have spread through our suburbs fuelling more violence, crime and drug addiction. Countless lives and families would have been horrendously affected.”

ABF Superintendent Tori Rosemond said the seizure was an example of law enforcement agencies working together to combat serious organised crime.

“ABF officers are experts at detecting illicit drugs and can pick up any concealment, however criminals try to hide it,” Supt Rosemond said.

“Our highly trained officers have a wide range of capabilities at their disposal, informed by intelligence and sophisticated technology, to locate illicit drugs at Australia’s border.