MELBOURNE, Australia - Australian authorities have seized the largest heroin shipment ever detected in Australia after intercepting 450kg of the illicit drug inside a container of tiles sent from Malaysia to Melbourne.
A Malaysian National has been arrested following the joint Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) operation. The man was charged on Thursday and faced the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday. He was remanded in custody and is due to next appear in court in January 2022.
On the charges he faces, the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
The heroin, which has an estimated street value of $140 million, was detected in a sea freight container of ceramic tiles addressed to a Melbourne business.
The shipment arrived at the Port of Melbourne on 29 September 2021, where ABF officers examined the container and located packages with distinctive red heroin branding. Testing on the substance within those packages returned a presumptive result for heroin.
AFP investigators assessed a total of 1,290 packages containing heroin within the shipment. The total estimated weight of 451kg, which is about the same weight as a grand piano, made it the largest onshore detection of heroin in Australia.
The heroin was removed from the shipment and the consignment delivered to an industrial precinct near Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport on Thursday, 7 October.
On Friday AFP investigators executed a number of search warrants on business and residential premises.
AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Southern Command, Krissy Barrett said the AFP has strong and enduring relationships with its international partners in the fight against drug trafficking.
"We have a strong relationship with the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) and in particular the RMP Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department," she said Saturday.
"We continue to work together in identifying and disrupting transnational organised crime syndicates that seek to harm both our nations and generate millions of dollars of profits from criminal activity."
ABF Commander Chris Holzeimer said that despite pandemic-related border disruptions, the ABF continued to effectively disrupt attempts by criminal syndicates to bring narcotics into Australia.
"The ABF remains alert to all attempts to illegally import dangerous narcotics into the country. Syndicates might vary their concealment efforts, but our officers have the technical expertise to defeat them," Commander Holzeimer said.