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TWO people have been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled precursor material.

A Malaysian national, 49, and a Victorian woman, 53, were charged after an investigation by Australian Border Force Regional Investigations Victoria.

The ABF alleges the man and woman were part of a syndicate operating in Victoria and NSW which used what police call a scattergun methodology to import border-controlled precursors, mainly pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine.

The scattergun approach is when criminals send multiple packages containing illicit goods to different locations in the hope the majority will evade detection.

The ABF believe the man and woman had been working with an international crime syndicate with links to India and Malaysia to import multiple packages into Australia for at least two years.

On 3 February a consignment arrived in Sydney on a flight from India. The next day, ABF officers examined the consignment, which contained one metal oven. The oven was opened and a large clear bag was found concealed inside containing a white crystal-like substance.

ABF air cargo officers conducted testing of the substance, which returned a positive result for pseudoephedrine hydrochloride. The bag weighed 6.9 kilograms.

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On 5 February another consignment containing a pizza oven arrived in Sydney on a flight from India. It was also found to contain a bag with a white crystal-like substance inside, which tested positive for pseudoephedrine hydrochloride. The bag weighed 7 kilograms.

On 2 March, ABF officers arrested the woman.

ABF Investigators continued their investigation and following further enquiries and search warrants, arrested a male Malaysian national on 13 May.

Superintendent Uriah Turner, Regional Investigations Maritime and Enforcement South, said: “Pseudoephedrine is a prohibited drug commonly used to manufacture methamphetamine, and the amount seized in this investigation could have resulted in a large amount of the drug ice being dealt on Australian streets.

“Organised crime groups distribute these harmful substances anywhere they see fit to make a profit, knowing full well the harm these drugs cause to the community and it won’t be tolerated.

“While ABF officers are committed to stopping harmful drugs entering Australia at the border, they’re also determined to stop the importation of illegal precursors, which allow criminals to manufacture drugs in our community.

“These arrests should serve as a warning to anyone considering taking part in criminal activities – you will be caught and you will be held to account.”

Investigations into the crime syndicate continue.

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