Thursday 22nd Nov, 2018

Search of container reveals thousands of litres of illicit drug

Photo: Australian Border Force
Photo: Australian Border Force

POLICE seized about 2000 litres of the drug gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) after it was smuggled into Sydney in a shipping container.

The drug was found in 10 drums of a consignment of 120 drums that were labelled as car pre-painting wash.

A 30-year-old man was charged for the role in smuggling the drugs, which have an estimated value of $10m.

The joint AFP-ABF operation started in early February when ABF investigators received information regarding a high-risk container coming into Sydney.

ABF officers searched the container at the NSW Container Examination Facility and found a suspicious substance, which tested positive for GBL.

On Friday (9 February) AFP officers raided addresses across Sydney in Warwick Farm, Marrickville, Moorebank and Lewisham, where the man was arrested.

AFP state manager NSW Commander Chris Sheehan said while some people believed GBL was a harmless “party drug”, the realities were much more dangerous.

“The World Health Organization says it is the kind of substance commonly found in paint strippers, stain removers, and circuit board cleaners,” he said.

“This ‘coma in a bottle’ affects a person’s consciousness – predators have used it to enable rape. It is vital we continue to work with our partners at the border to stop any dangerous drug that can contribute to these sorts of crimes in our community.”

ABF regional commander NSW Tim Fitzgerald said from just a small piece of information received, investigators from the ABF and AFP were able to stop a significant amount of dangerous chemicals reaching the community and we now have a person before the courts.

“This detection is a direct result of the expertise and capability of ABF officers in identifying a high risk shipment and the method used to conceal this extremely dangerous drug,” he said.

GBL metabolises into the drug gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) in the body. It can cause abrupt loss of consciousness, memory loss, respiratory difficulties, coma, and death.

Investigations into this importation are ongoing, and further arrests have not been ruled out.

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