$300 Million Drug Bust Sees Multiple Arrests Across Australia, Europe
Australian police have helped bust an international drug ring that was planning to ship 700kg of MDMA to Brisbane.
Australian Federal Police and Queensland police worked with officers in The Netherlands to intercept a huge haul of the drug in the Dutch city of Rotterdam in late August.
Police say it had a street value of about $300 million and would have made 15 million MDMA tablets.
Eleven people have been charged including the alleged kingpins arrested in The Netherlands and Belgium, and a 48-year-old NSW woman.
A 58-year-old man was arrested in Belgium and a 37-year-old man was arrested in the Netherlands. The men, both Dutch nationals, have been charged by Dutch authorities and are currently awaiting trial in the Netherlands.
The 48-year-old Australian woman, from Bass Hill, was arrested by police in Sydney on 11 November and extradited to Brisbane where she was charged with attempt to possess a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs.
The Australian Federal Police said the maximum penalty for this offence is life imprisonment. She is due to appear in Brisbane Magistrates Court on November 29.
“The AFP is committed to working closely with its law enforcement partners here in Australia, through partnerships such as the Queensland Joint Organised Crime Taskforce, and overseas to ensure offenders face considerable consequences for their actions,” AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said.
“I wish to thank our Dutch counterparts for their expert involvement in this investigation and strong support of our efforts to keep these drugs off Australian shores.”
Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Tracy Linford was pleased the drugs were halted.
“The sad reality is these drugs were destined for our Australian communities to be diluted with other contaminants and then falsely pedalled as a safe drug," she said.
"They are anything but this, in fact they are made by unsophisticated and unqualified people in clandestine conditions whose priority is not the authenticity of their product but profit."
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton praised the high level operation, saying it stopped dangerous drugs possibly ending up in the bellies of schoolies.
He also said it was evidence that the war on drugs was effective.
"Those people who tell you that we are losing the fight and the war against drugs don't know what they are talking about," he told reporters in Brisbane.
"We are pushing back on the scourge of serious and organised crime, and as we know the bikies in this country are the biggest distributors, importers, manufacturers of drugs."
Andy Kraag, the assistant commissioner of the Dutch National Criminal Investigation Division, says the sophisticated joint operation dismantled a major criminal network.
"Our Australian colleagues investigated from the demand side and we investigated from the supply side in Holland," he told reporters.
"The joint operation allowed us to close down on these criminals and fully expose and break down this network."