Wednesday, June 10, 2015
Six men have been charged and 230 kilograms of liquid methylamphetamine and in excess of 250 kilograms of cocaine seized in two countries as part of a major joint-agency investigation into an international organised crime syndicate.

The arrests are a result of a Polaris Joint Waterfront Taskforce (JWT) investigation involving the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the New South Wales Police Force (NSWPF), Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) and Australian Crime Commission, with close cooperation from law enforcement counterparts in South America.

The operation began in May 2014 when information was received about a person of interest arriving in Australia suspected of facilitating the importation of border controlled drugs.

Following further investigation, on 21 December 2014, the Polaris JWT seized a consignment of 20,000 bottles of flavoured water destined for a Sydney warehouse. 

An AFP forensics examination of this consignment identified 230 kilograms of liquid methylamphetamine concealed within the bottles. The street value for this amount is approximately $156 million.

On 21 January 2015, law enforcement authorities in Bogota, identified and seized a further 243 kilograms of cocaine related to this syndicate destined for the European market. The cocaine was concealed within cardboard boxes containing flowers.

The Australian joint taskforce continued to monitor the criminal syndicate and observed alleged preparations for further importations of border controlled drugs from Colombia to Australia.

On Saturday, 28 February 2015, Colombian National Police conducted an examination of approximately two tonnes of fresh flowers consigned to Sydney. During this examination, approximately 10kg of cocaine was located, worth approximately $3.6 million.

On Tuesday, 3 March 2015, Polaris JWT investigators conducted 11 search warrants across Sydney. Subsequently, five Australian men and one Spanish/Colombian national were arrested for their alleged involvement with this syndicate.

Commander of the Polaris JWT, NSWPF Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham said authorities actively targeted and disrupted syndicates involved in crime on Australia's borders and combated drug trafficking in source countries.

"The fight against serious and organised crime is one that needs to be conducted globally," Detective Superintendent Bingham said.

"Australian law enforcement, state, federal and international partner agencies cooperate across borders and jurisdictions. We are committed to shutting down these organised criminal networks and stopping the importation of drugs and other illicit commodities in their source countries."

The men have been charged with:

Importation of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug;
Attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug; and
Conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs.
These charges could attract a possible penalty of life imprisonment. 

The men appeared at Central Local Court yesterday and are scheduled to reappear at Downing Centre Local Court on 13 May 2015.

Investigations into the criminal syndicate continue and further arrests are expected.
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