Sydney woman charged over border controlled drug

Members of the National Anti-Gangs Squad (NAGS) have charged a Sydney woman for attempting to import about 25 kilograms of phenylethylamine HCL, which is considered an analogue of the border controlled drug amphetamine.

Operation Highfields began after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers examined a consignment on 4 October 2022, which was addressed to the woman, 24, in Wentworthville.

The consignment was found to contain about 25 kilograms of phenylethylamine HCL, which has a similar chemical structure to amphetamine and can be used as a cutting agent for illicit drugs.

AFP and NSW Police officers on Wednesday (2 November 2022) executed a search warrant at the woman’s home, where they seized four mobile phones and 21 luxury goods, including designer handbags, shoes and a Rolex watch.

The woman was arrested and charged with one count of attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, contrary to sections 11.1 and 307.1 of the Criminal Code (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.  

The investigation has led police to suspect the substance was imported on behalf of a Middle Eastern organised crime group operating out of Sydney.

AFP Detective Acting Inspector Carly Smith said law enforcement agencies followed every avenue to stop organised crime groups from profiting off vulnerable Australians.

 “The AFP collaborates closely with our partners to disrupt organised crime groups operating in NSW, it is imperative that we stop cash flowing into the hands of organised criminals who use it to fund their next criminal venture,” Detective Acting Inspector Smith said.

NSW Police Force Criminal Groups Squad Commander, Detective Superintendent Grant Taylor, said this is another example of the strong collaboration between our state and federal law enforcement agencies.

“Organised crime groups attempt to infiltrate our society in a variety of ways. So, through detections at all ports – land, air and sea – and the intelligence sharing between agencies, we are able to identify, arrest and prosecute those who intend to engage in illicit behaviour in our state. We will not tolerate it,” Det Superintendent Taylor said.

ABF Acting Superintendent Kathryn Kennedy said ABF officers remain committed to examining consignments to ensure the community is protected from illegal substances imported by criminals.

“ABF officers are equipped with world-leading skills and technology so the community can be assured no matter the method these criminals try to use, we will find them and we will stop them,” Acting Superintendent Kennedy said.

“ABF remains committed to working closely with our law enforcement partners to put an end to the wave of dangerous drugs entering Australia.”

 NAGS investigators are continuing their investigation into this importation and the potential uses of this substance. Further arrests have not been ruled out.

The woman was granted bail under strict conditions yesterday (2 November 2022). She is expected to next appear in Parramatta Local Court on 13 January 2023.