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Head of $147 million smuggling ring lands in Sydney court

Head of $147 million smuggling ring lands in Sydney court

SYDNEY, Australia – A 33-year-Taiwanese man appeared in a Sydney court on Friday after being extradited from the Netherlands, where he had been held since his arrest in June 2017.

The man is considered by the Australian Federal Police to have been the organiser of a smuggling ring which brought $147 million worth of methamphetamine into Sydney in February 2014 using kayaks.

Operation Ultramarine commenced more than four years ago, after a container arrived from China on 30 January 2014 containing 27 sea kayaks.

On 5 February 2014, the former Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, now Australian Border Force , conducted x-ray searches revealing anomalies in nineteen of the 27 kayaks. A total of one hundred and eighty three bags of a white crystalline substance, each containing approximately 1 kilogram of methamphetamine, were located. The matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police for further investigation.

Forensic testing later established the substance had an average purity of 77% pure methamphetamine – giving a total weight of 142 kilograms of pure methamphetamine, with an estimated street value calculated in 2014 at $147,420,080.

As a result of the operation, four Taiwanese nationals (one woman and three men) were charged in Sydney and found guilty of drug offences under the Commonwealth Criminal Code in 2015. They received penalties in the courts ranging from twenty two to 27 years in prison.

After these initial arrests, the officers continued an ongoing investigation to identify the organiser who arranged for the four Taiwanese nationals to receive the consignment in Sydney.

As a result of investigations, an arrest warrant was issued for a 33-year-old Taiwanese man, who was arrested in June 2017 by authorities in the Netherlands while at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

The man was extradited from the Netherlands to Australia this week, as a result of extensive work of the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department and Dutch officials. He arrived at Sydney International Airport on Thursday night.

Australian Federal Police acting Commander Peter Bodel, Manager Organised Crime, said the outcome, more than four years after the initial operation, highlights the approach to tracking down organised crime syndicates.

“Operations like this reveal the tenacity of investigators who work to dismantle all parts of organised crime networks who seek to bring their harm to Australia. We do not stop in our efforts to take down these syndicates,” acting Commander Bodel said Friday.

“This result would not have been possible without the dedicated and ongoing support from the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department, Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, and officials in the Netherlands who have helped ensure the smooth return to begin prosecutions in Australia.”

The man appeared in Sutherland Local Court in Sydney on Friday charged with:

Importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, into Australia, contrary to Section 307.1, with section 11.2 or section 11.2A, of the Criminal Code (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment.

Importing border controlled drugs contrary to Section 307.3, with section 11.2 or section 11.2A, of the Criminal Code (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.