THREE men who used air cargo to import more than $135 million worth of drugs into Australia have been jailed following a major investigation.

The criminal syndicate members imported 180 kilograms of methamphetamine into Sydney from Malaysia in September 2020.

Australian Federal Police detectives launched an investigation (Operation Caerus-Braint-West) when it was suspected the syndicate was planning to import the drugs via air freight.

The methamphetamine was found hidden in a shipment of refrigerated air driers after it had arrived in Sydney, and a man from Chipping Norton was arrested the next day.

Detectives seized around $300,000 in cash, mobile phones, encrypted devices and fake identity documents during a search at the home of the man (then aged 28) along with documents linked to the consignment.

After examining seized evidence, detectives arrested and charged another two men in November 2020 – a Gregory Hills man, then aged 20 and a Chester Hill man, then aged 25.

Officers seized a dozen AN0M devices, encrypted phones, firearms, ammunition, a ballistic vest, along with a small amount cannabis and MDMA during the search warrants.

AFP Detective acting Inspector Sarah Fullerton said the AFP was working hard to stop drug trafficking syndicates from profiting at the expense of communities.

“Despite efforts by criminal networks to evade detection, the AFP has the ability to disrupt their trafficking plans,” Detective a/Inspector Fullerton said.

She said the amount of methamphetamine would have amounted to 1.8 million street level deals.

“Not only has the AFP stopped this drug from causing immense harm in the community, this investigation stopped about $135 million in potential profits going into the pockets of criminals and used to fund future drug importations.”

The three men faced Parramatta Local Court this month in relation to their alleged roles in the enterprise.

They pleaded guilty to their various roles in the importation and were sentenced to jail terms of between seven and 10 years.