Heroin worth $117 million seized in drug bust allegedly implicating major organised crime player

Police claim to have arrested one of Australia’s “most significant organised crime threats” as part of a massive international drug bust.

The Australian Federal Police will use months of encrypted conversations to allege a 38-year-old Sydney man conspired with a 41-year-old Sydney man to import about 314kg of heroin — worth $117 million — from Thailand to Australia.

But on July 5 the Thailand Customs Authority allegedly seized the drugs, hidden in dozens of paint drums in an outgoing shipping container and concealed in yellow, box-shaped objects.

Heroin generic heroin drugs generic drugs (Jessica Hromas)

A month earlier, Australian officers had raided the 41-year-old’s Cambridge Park home and allegedly seized several encrypted communication devices.

On July 16, the AFP seized several encrypted communication devices, a knuckle duster, a butterfly knife and a small amount of MDMA in a raid on a Pyrmont residence allegedly linked to the 38-year-old.

On Thursday, police swooped, raiding homes in Edensor Park and Cambridge Park, seizing several undisclosed items and charging the men with conspiring to import drugs into Australia.

The younger man is also facing weapons and drug possession charges.

The AFP said the 38-year-old was on the Australian Priority Organisation Target list, which according to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, details “top-tier international and transnational targets that play a significant role” in Australian organised crime.

“The majority of APOTs have moved offshore, but in the past two years, the AFP has worked with overseas law enforcement to arrest one of these priority targets, plus carried out coordinated action against another two targets – and their organisations – that have crippled their ability to target Australia with large-scale or frequent drug importations,” AFP acting Assistant Commissioner Schofield said, in a press release.

She said the AFP worked with overseas networks and partners to reach the alleged serious criminals.

“One by one, the AFP and its partners will build the intelligence and evidence against these criminals and bring them to justice,” she said,

ACIC executive director of intelligence operations Robert Jackson said recent wastewater samples showed high heroin use around Melbourne and parts of regional New South Wales.

“The popularity of heroin may not be as pronounced as methamphetamine or cocaine, but even small doses of heroin can have a deadly impact on vulnerable Australians,’ he said.

Thailand Office of the Narcotic Control Board secretary-general Wichai Chaimongkhon said his organisation was happy to work with the AFP on the operation.

The men remained behind bars overnight to appear in court on Friday.

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