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IN a joint media release, the Australian Border Force and the Australian Federal Police reported that authorities have seized the largest heroin shipment ever detected in Australia. It was reported that 450 kilograms of the illicit drug was intercepted inside a shipping container of tiles sent from Malaysia to the Port of Melbourne.

A Malaysian national has been arrested following the joint AFP and ABF operation.

He was charged on 14 October with import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drugs, namely 451 kilograms of heroin; and attempted possession of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment.

The heroin, which police estimate is worth $140 million, was detected in a sea freight container of ceramic tiles addressed to a Melbourne business.

The shipment arrived at the Port of Melbourne on 29 September 2021, where ABF officers examined the container and located packages with distinctive red heroin branding. Testing on the substance within those packages returned a presumptive result for heroin.

AFP investigators assessed a total of 1290 packages containing heroin within the shipment. The total estimated weight of 451 kilograms, which is about the same weight as a grand piano, made it the largest onshore detection of heroin in Australia.

The heroin was removed from the shipment and the consignment delivered to an industrial precinct near Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport on 7 October.

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On 15 October, AFP investigators executed a number of search warrants on business and residential premises.

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Southern Command, Krissy Barrett said the AFP has strong and enduring relationships with its international partners in the fight against drug trafficking.

“We have a strong relationship with the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) and in particular the RMP Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department,” she said.

“We continue to work together in identifying and disrupting transnational organised crime syndicates that seek to harm both our nations and generate millions of dollars of profits from criminal activity.”

ABF Commander Chris Holzeimer said that despite pandemic-related border disruptions, the ABF continued to effectively disrupt attempts by criminal syndicates to bring narcotics into Australia.

“The ABF remains alert to all attempts to illegally import dangerous narcotics into the country. Syndicates might vary their concealment efforts, but our officers have the technical expertise to defeat them,” Commander Holzeimer said.

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