Sydney [Australia], March 12: In a joint operation with the national postal services provider Australia Post, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have intercepted more than half a ton of illicit drugs sent by mail to the state of Queensland.
The federal police said in a statement on Sunday that over the past nine months, nearly 160 packages were detected and referred to the joint operation set up to target criminal syndicates shipping contraband into the state.
The packages contained more than 547 kg of illicit drugs and precursors, which include a total of 203 kg of methamphetamine, more than 180 kg of cocaine, 48 kg of heroin, 26.3 kg of gamma-butyrolactone or GBL, four kg of opium and more than 5.5 kg of ketamine.
Four people have been arrested allegedly responsible and the disruption of numerous attempted imports.
Starting in May last year, the operation involved an Australia Post security liaison officer who was embedded with AFP investigators in Brisbane, capital of Queensland.
During the operation, investigators found that a suspected criminal syndicate used a fake address in an attempt to evade law enforcement detection, while illicit drugs were found hidden in a range of items, including candles, clothing, books and electronic equipment.
"Illicit drugs cause tremendous harm to the Australian community and anyone caught importing, possessing or trafficking commercial quantities of these drugs could face life imprisonment if convicted," said AFP Detective Superintendent Helen Schneider.
"This operation has given us valuable intelligence about these groups, including that criminal syndicates often nominate an incorrect address, such as vacant lots or short-term rentals as destinations for shipments," Schneider added.
According to the statement, the AFP is aware that organized crime groups use the mail and parcel post system to import illicit drugs in combination with their other import streams. The police authority is actively targeting mail and air cargo streams.