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Australia police find 450 kg of ecstasy in excavator from UK

Christian Fernsby |
Five men have been arrested across Western Sydney and London following a joint investigation by Australian and UK authorities into a shipment of almost 450 kilograms of MDMA concealed in an excavator imported into Australia from the UK.

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Topics: AUSTRALIA   

Operation Centinel North Hart commenced in March 2020 following a detection by the Australian Border Force (ABF) of a suspect shipment of an excavator destined for Australia.

ABF officers examined the consignment following its arrival into Brisbane from Southampton on 13 March 2020. An x-ray of the machine revealed anomalies within the arm of the excavator.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Forensics officers examined the machine and removed 226 plastic bags containing a crystalline substance hidden within the arm of the excavator. Forensic analysis conducted revealed the substance to be MDMA.

The MDMA totalled approximately 448 kilograms, which has an estimated street value of up to $79 million.

On 15 June 2020, National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators in the UK arrested two London men aged 53 and 60 and a third London man on 1 October, aged 57, who were all charged with conspiring to export a Class A drug.

The excavator was ultimately delivered to a Sydney address. The investigation, undertaken by AFP Investigators from Brisbane with assistance from the ACIC, resulted in search warrants being executed by AFP officers on Wednesday (9 December 2020) in Western Sydney suburbs of Blacktown, Mortlake, Homebush and Greystanes, where two men were arrested and approximately $1.2 million dollars in cash was seized.

The 33-year-old Mortlake man and a 42-year-old Greystanes man have both been charged with attempting to possess commercial quantities of border controlled drugs contrary to section 307.5, by virtue of section 11.1, of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The offence carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Both men appeared in Sydney Central Local Court on 9 December 2020 and were remanded to next appear in court on 3 February 2021.

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