A MAN has been sentenced to 18-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for attempting to import 154 kilograms of methamphetamine into Australia in a shipping container.

Authorities seized the haul in early 2020 when the Victorian Joint Organised Crime Task Force was alerted to a “suspicious” container arriving in Melbourne from Mexico.

Australian Border Force officers found anomalies in the consignment at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility on 30 January 2020.

Further deconstruction uncovered blocks of a substance that tested positive to meth. It was hidden inside 19 tonnes of silver concentrate.

Authorities arrested a Canadian-French dual national – 26 years old at the time – and searched his home and storage unit in February 2020.

They seized the substituted packages from the consignment, mobile phones, sim cards, drug paraphernalia and 12 large bulk bags containing the silver concentrate.

The now-29-year-old man was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court to 18-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in February 2023, with a non-parole period of 13 years and six months, for his role in the importation.

Court proceedings for this matter ended on Tuesday, 14 November 2023, when a Sydney man, 37, was found not guilty in the Melbourne County Court on charges relating to the attempted possession of the illicit drugs.

Australian Federal Police Detective Superintendent Jason McArthur said the AFP, Victoria Police and Australian Border Force had prevented a significant amount of methamphetamine from reaching the Victorian community.

The authorities worked together under the Victorian JOCTF after receiving intelligence from the Indian Narcotics Control Bureau.

“Operation Spalford investigators identified, tracked and disrupted this criminal syndicate and seized 154 kilograms of dangerous methamphetamine that had the potential to cause undeniable harm to the community,” Det-Supt McArthur said.

“The illicit drug supply chain is littered with violence and had this amount of methamphetamine made its way to Australian streets, it could have spread through our suburbs fuelling more violence, crime and drug addiction.

“No matter how innovative or sophisticated these criminals attempt to become, we will continue to track them down and prosecute them to the full extent of the law through the tireless efforts of all of our law enforcement partners.”

Dan Peters, ABF acting Commander, maritime and enforcement south, said meth shipments were being seized at Australia’s border at record levels.

“Our border is one of our most critical strategic national assets and criminals should know that the ABF will continue to detect, disrupt and dismantle transnational crime syndicates,” Acting Commander Peters said.

“While criminals continue to try and cross our border with illicit drugs, our ABF officers will detect them time and time again.”

Victoria Police Detective Superintendent David Cowan said authorities were glad that Operation Spalford was able to disrupt the syndicate and remove a large quantity of drugs from the streets.

“Victoria Police, ABF and AFP will continue to detect and disrupt these syndicates, anyone looking to import drugs should know we are watching, we are waiting and we will come for you.”

The Joint Organised Crime Task Force is comprised of investigators from the AFP, ABF, Victoria Police and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.