FOUR men have been charged after authorities seized 622 kilograms of methamphetamine hidden in a shipment of toilet paper rolls.
The shipment arrived in Melbourne from Malaysia via sea cargo on 4 October.
Australian Border Force officers identified anomalies in the consignment during an x-ray screening and reported the matter to the Australian Federal Police.
The Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF) arrested four men late on 11 October and early the next morning following an investigation into a criminal syndicate suspected of importing border controlled drugs.
Two Chinese nationals (both 33), a Malaysian national (34) and a Hong Kong national (32) were due to face court on 12 October.
Authorities believe the men are members of a transnational serious organised crime syndicate operating in Melbourne.
It will be alleged that members of the JOCTF arrested one of the Chinese nationals and the Hong Kong national at Melbourne Airport as they separately attempted to board flights to leave Australia.
Officers also arrested the Malaysian national at a property in Sunshine North and the other Chinese national in Box Hill.
JOCTF members searched a warehouse at Sunshine North and a storage facility at South Melbourne, along with residential properties in Box Hill, Blackburn and Glen Waverley, allegedly seizing evidence of the imports and electronic devices including mobile phones.
The men were all charged with one count of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. This offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
AFP Commander Raegan Stewart said the arrests should serve as a warning to those seeking to import drugs into Australia.
“The AFP together with our Joint Organised Crime Taskforce partners will not stop,” he said.
“We will not stop working to track, identify and disrupt your criminal operations in order to keep Australians safe. And we will bring you to justice.”
Victoria Police Detective Acting Superintendent Dan Ryan, Organised Crime Division, said authorities’ work does not stop with this seizure and the arrests.
“Alongside our law enforcement partners, we will look to chase up every avenue of enquiry possible as a result of this investigation and we will continue to disrupt the importation of illicit drugs into Victoria.”
And ABF Commander Clint Sims said officers dedicate a significant amount of time at the border to prevent narcotics reaching Australian shores.
“With help from our law enforcement partners we will continue to foil attempts such as this one and I congratulate everyone involved in this mammoth result.”
JOCTF comprises members from the AFP, Victoria Police, ABF, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Department of Home Affairs.