The Australian Federal Police (AFP) is targeting outlaw motorcycle gangs who are conspiring with offshore criminals to import methamphetamine from Afghanistan to Australia, with multiple kilograms of the illicit drug destined for NSW.
Since 2021, more than 250kg of Afghan-produced methamphetamine has been seized at the Australian border and offshore, including in Pakistan, where two AFP members are based. The street value of 250kg of methamphetamine would have reached up to $225 million.
In 2022, Australian Border Force (ABF) seized 26kg of Afghan-produced methamphetamine in 19 separate imports alone, the majority destined for NSW and hidden inside packages sent in the international mail stream.
As law enforcement records a spike in Afghan-produced methamphetamine seized in Australia, AFP intelligence indicates transnational serious organised criminals are importing Afghan-produced methamphetamine but are disguising its origin to make it easier to get into Australia.
The offshore criminals, who are selling the illicit drugs to Australian outlaw motorcycle gangs, are redirecting consignments through other supply chains in the region.
The intelligence obtained by the AFP will help joint operations with foreign law enforcement partners targeting several offshore and Australian-based criminals.
The AFP is working in countries to identity and disrupt organised criminals who are sourcing or sending drugs through Afghanistan, Europe, across Asia or the Pacific.
Today, (2 March) the AFP officially opened its new Sydney forensic laboratory, which will be crucial in assisting investigators identify the origins of illicit drugs imported into Australia.
AFP Eastern Command Assistant Commissioner Steve Dametto said AFP intelligence confirmed Afghan-produced methamphetamine was a significant and emerging threat to Australia.
“Methamphetamine is a dangerous, toxic illicit drug,” Assistant Commissioner Dametto said.
“Stopping these criminal groups at the international source, with our partners, means these drugs will never make it to the streets of Australia.”
Assistant Commissioner Dametto said the AFP’s strong forensic capability was a key component in combating transnational serious organised crime.
“The new AFP forensics facility and equipment will play a major role in the AFP’s work to identify these illicit drug imports, such as Afghan-produced methamphetamine, and their origins.”
“With many of these illicit drug imports bound for Australia via Sydney, our members in our laboratory will be working to assist our investigators to identify, track and disrupt the criminal groups attempting to import these harmful illicit drugs into our country, and respond to that threat.”
He said the AFP would continue to work closely with state, Commonwealth and international law enforcement partners to disrupt and dismantle the criminal syndicates responsible for the rise of Afghan-produced methamphetamine imports to Australia.
“We are warning these criminal syndicates that we are aware of your supply chains, both new and old, and the AFP will be relentless in tracking and tracing those responsible to bring them to justice.”
Assistant Commissioner Dametto said illicit drug trafficking had serious consequences for Australia.
“At a macro level, drug trafficking impacts on our national security because criminals try to corrupt officials, or those who work in key logistic or infrastructure sectors.”
“It also impacts on the Australian economy because drug traffickers launder money through our financial systems and often increase their wealth by investing their illicit money, allowing them to bankroll more serious crime.”
Assistant Commissioner Dametto warned that methamphetamine was a highly addicted drug that posed a significant risk to Australians.
“The downstream effects of illicit drugs contribute to the Australian road toll, family violence and child neglect.”
ABF Assistant Commissioner Erin Dale emphasised the importance of inter-agency cooperation in combatting importations of border-controlled drugs such as methamphetamine.
“The ABF continues to work with all law enforcement agencies in Australia and offshore to stop organised crime groups who seek to import illegal drugs,” Assistant Commissioner Dale said.
“These seizures demonstrate how strong partnerships can effectively prevent and disrupt organised criminal syndicates attempting to import illicit substances into Australia.”