Editor’s note: Images of the methamphetamine and audio grabs from AFP Detective Inspector Chris Salmon are available via hightail.
A Canadian national has been charged after about $22.3 million worth of crystal methamphetamine was allegedly found hidden in shoeboxes in his luggage at Melbourne Airport this week.
The 76-year-old man arrived on a flight from Los Angeles on Wednesday morning (8 June 2022), after which he had a large black suitcase examined by Australian quarantine officials who discovered a crystalline substance in about seven shoeboxes.
It will be alleged in court the man claimed the substance was salt.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officers did a presumptive test of the substance which returned a positive result for methamphetamine.
The crystal methamphetamine weighed in at about 24 kilograms – the equivalent of about 240,000 street deals.
Australian Federal Police officers seized the drugs and charged the man with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, namely methamphetamine, contrary to section 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act (Cth).
The maximum penalty for this offense is life imprisonment.
The man was remanded in custody after a brief appearance in Melbourne Magistrates Court and is next expected to appear in court on 1 September 2022.
AFP Detective Inspector Chris Salmon said investigations into the origins of the crystal methamphetamine were continuing and further arrests had not been ruled out.
“It is rare that one individual can organise the purchase, importation and distribution of such a large quantity of illicit drugs; There is often an organized criminal syndicate operating behind such drug importations,” Detective Inspector Salmon said.
“The AFP works tirelessly with its partners at the border to ensure these dangerous substances don’t reach our communities; in this instance, about 240,000 street deals were prevented.”
ABF Acting Superintendent Aviation Operations Claudine Lupton said ABF officers were detecting large quantities of illicit substances coming into Australia every day.
“Criminals will try to hide illicit drugs in a variety of ways, however our well-trained officers have many detection methods at their disposal,” Acting Supt Lupton said.
“No matter how those drugs are hidden, our officers have the technology and expertise to find them.
“Ice destroys communities and tears families apart. This is a significant seizure and I hope this sends a strong message to those attempting to bring illicit drugs into the country – we will find you and you will be prosecuted.”
Note to media:
Media are encouraged to include help-seeking information in stories about illicit drugs to minimise any negative impact on people in the community. The following services provide people with access to support and information.
- For free and confidential advice about alcohol and other drug treatment services call the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline on 1800 250 015.
- Access free 24/7 drug and alcohol counseling online at www.counsellingonline.org.au.
- For information about drug and alcohol addiction treatment or support, go to www.turningpoint.org.au.
Media enquiries AFP National Media: (02) 5126 9297
ABF Media: (02) 6264 2244