MORE than 370kg of methamphetamine precursor ephedrine has been seized by authorities in three separate sea cargo shipments to Sydney since March.
Investigations into this latest haul began back in March after Australian Border Force (ABF) officers found 27kg of ephedrine in a sea cargo consignment from China.
Then, another sea cargo consignment, also from China, arrived in Australia in April carrying a further 240kg of ephedrine concealed in wall tiles.
After these two detections, the ABF commenced Operation Accinge – a joint operation with the NSWPF Drug Squad to target the criminal syndicate responsible for these attempted importations.
Then, on July 11, officers at the ABF’s Sydney Container Examination Facility targeted a consignment suspected to be connected to the syndicate.
There were 30 milking machines in the consignment, along with about 100kg of ephedrine hidden foil packages.
The ABF and NSWPF raided a residential address in Dundas, Western Sydney on Thursday evening and arrested two 25-year-old Chinese nationals.
They were charged with the attempted import of a commercial quantity of ephedrine, which carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison or a $900,000 fine.
ABF Superintendent of Investigations NSW, Garry Low, said this seizure brings the combined total of ephedrine detected at the border to more than two tonnes since March this year.
“Two tonnes of the precursor chemical ephedrine can be used to more than 1.8 tonnes of ice,” he said.
“Significantly, that is the equivalent of 18 million individual hits of ice that the ABF and NSWPF have seized and will now be destroyed.”
NSWPF Drug Squad Commander Detective Superintendent Tony Cooke said authorities are just as interested in the movement of precursors as they are in ice itself.
“We are focused both on seizing finished product and also the precursors used by organised crime to manufacture this poison,” he said.