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Meth in statues seized at Sydney Airport

Three men have been arrested at Sydney International Airport for allegedly importing about 34 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed in statues.

The Sydney men aged, 42, 47 and 44 were scheduled to face Downing Centre Local court yesterday charged with the importation of border controlled drugs, which was discovered in two of the men’s checked luggage by Australian Border Force (ABF) officers.

The two men arrived on a flight from South Africa on 16 February 2023, when they were selected for secondary screening by the ABF.

A search of their belongings uncovered 22 resin coated statues wrapped in bubble wrap. An initial test of the statues returned positive for methamphetamine. Further forensic testing will be conducted to determine the exact weight and purity of the substance.

The matter was then referred to AFP Sydney Airport officers who arrested the two men. A short time later, officers identified a third man allegedly linked to the importation in the vicinity of the terminal.

The man was arrested and officers allegedly uncovered evidence linking the man to the import on the man’s mobile phone. Three search warrants were executed at the men’s homes on Thursday (16 February 2023) where officers seized $50,000 in cash.

AFP Sydney Airport Detective Acting Inspector James McMiIllan said with travel returning to pre-pandemic levels, the AFP and its partner agencies were on the lookout for popular methods of drug importations.

“There is no limit to the methods people will try to import drugs into Australia. If you can think of it then it’s probably been used to conceal drugs in an attempt to smuggle it into our community,” he said.

“We know the terrible impacts that methamphetamine and other drugs can have on individuals and our communities – that’s why we’re committed to stopping the flow at our borders.”

ABF Superintendent Phillip Anderson praised the work of ABF officers who detected the attempted illegal import.

“Our officers are highly trained and capable when it comes to detecting attempts of this nature, and they are committed to protecting the Australian community from the scourge of illegal drugs,” Superintendent Anderson said.

“As always, this incident shows that when we work together with our law enforcement partners, potential criminals don’t stand a chance and can expect to be brought to justice.”