THREE men have each been sentenced to more than 13 years’ imprisonment for their roles in a plot to import 99 kilograms of methamphetamine into Western Australia ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations in 2021.

The trio was sentenced in the Perth District Court on Friday 8 December after earlier pleading guilty to attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug.  The methamphetamine was smuggled into Australia inside a shipment of bed pillows.

The AFP and Australian Border Force officers arrested the men on 30 December 2021 as they left a Maddington industrial property, where they had been inside a shipping container opening boxes of pillows to search for the illicit drugs they were expecting.

However, the AFP had replaced the 99 kilograms of high-purity methamphetamine with a harmless substance and by the time the men left the property that evening – their second visit to the container that day – they knew there were no illicit drugs to collect.

The arrests were a result of a joint agency investigation launched when ABF officers found the drugs hidden in a 550-kilogram shipment of latex bed pillows that arrived on a container ship from Asia.

ABF officers in Fremantle examined the consignment on 17 December 2021 and alerted the AFP when they found packages of a crystal-like substance in the pillows.

The AFP and ABF were assisted by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Department of Home Affairs and WA Police Force during the investigation.

AFP Inspector Chris Colley said the Maddington property where the shipping container was stored had also been linked to a separate AFP drug trafficking investigation.

“The same property was mentioned in messages found on a phone seized from a senior member of a transnational organised crime syndicate when he was arrested in Taiwan last year (2022),” AFP Inspector Colley said.

“He was later convicted and jailed over a separate plot to import methamphetamine into Australia. This provides an insight into illegal transnational supply chains, which have been disrupted by the AFP and partners.”

ABF acting Superintendent John Sweet said this was a significant seizure, disrupting countless potential harms to the Australian community.

“The latest National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report, released by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission in November, showed Western Australia has the highest average regional consumption of methylamphetamine in the country,” acting Superintendent Sweet said.

“No matter how innovative or sophisticated these criminals attempt to become, our officers will continue to disrupt their efforts to profit at the expense of the Australian community.

Two of the men, now aged 33 and 34, were each sentenced to 13 years and six months’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of eight years and one month.

The third man, 36, was sentenced to 13 years and one month’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of seven years and 10 months.

The sentences were backdated to 30 December 2021, when the men were taken into custody.