Information from Thai authorities led to largest seizure of precursor chemicals at Australian border

With information from Thai authorities, 3.9 tonnes of ephedrine and 350 kilograms of methamphetamine were seized and three people were arrested. Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) joined hands to complete this investigation. This is the largest capture of precursor chemicals at Australian border.

Thai authorities passed on information on possible large-scale imports of drugs into Sydney. On the basis of this, ABF officers conducted targeted examinations at the Sydney Container Examination Facility.

This ended up with the detection of a sea cargo shipment with 1000 cartons of bottled iced tea. Ephedrine was found in one third of the cartons. With each carton of 24 bottles, 3.9 tonnes of liquid ephedrine were found. It is possible that the services of Brisbane customs brokers were used for importation of the cargo, however details are not available.

As part of the investigation, AFP and ABF officers searched locations at suburbs of Cabramatta, Rydalmere, Westmead and Revesby. They arrested a 22-year-old woman with dual Australian and Chinese nationality in Westmead and a 22-year-old Australian man in Rydalmere.

Both were charged with importation of a border-controlled precursor. In addition, the 22-yearold man was also charged with attempting to possess a border-controlled precursor. Maximum penalty for the offence can be 25-year imprisonment.

Following this another investigation was done. ABF officers targeted a sea cargo container which arrived at Port Botany. A consignment of 50 drums of a liquid plaster solution was examined. Methamphetamine concealed in seven sealed packets in each drum was recovered. This worked out to 350 kilograms with street value of $350 million.

In this connection a 31-year-old Glenmore Park man was arrested in Bringelly, NSW and was charged for possessing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. This offence can attract a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.


The Australian Border Force arrests four, seize two million cigarettes in Brisbane.


Following an air freight seizure, The Australian Border Force (ABF) seized close to two million cigarettes in Brisbane. Cigarettes were concealed in boxes falsely declared as dehumidifiers. This is the result of the tough stand taken by law enforcement agencies on criminal syndicates attempting to illegally import tobacco into Australia.

An air freight consignment was examined by ABF officers and they found 1,975,400 cigarettes. This was followed by investigation at a storage facility in a south Brisbane suburb. In this connection four adults, three men and one woman, were arrested. They were charged with tobacco smuggling offences under the Customs Act 1901.

Illicit tobacco can be sold at more than 60 times its offshore price in Australia. This is the major reason for large scale tobacco smuggling into the country. According to Robert Ansell, ABF Acting Superintendent, ABF will continue to do everything in its capacity to target, disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups involved in tobacco smuggling. To avoid detection smugglers sometimes use services of a customs broker, in this case it’s unclear if any Brisbane customs brokers have been involved as no specific details are available at this time.

Another serious issue pointed out is that profits from illicit tobacco sales are often channelled into other organised criminal activities. This includes all types of crimes including drug trade.  The government is taking a very serious view on the issue and is working closely with other law enforcement authorities, both in Australia and across the globe.

The ABF Australian Border Force since its establishment in 2015 has confiscated and as a result stopped more than 400 tonnes of illicit tobacco from reaching the Australian market. Loss of revenue for the Australian government due to duty evasion on the illicit tobacco is estimated at more than $294 million. According to government data, during this period, more than 100 individuals have been charged with tobacco smuggling offences under the Customs Act 1901.

Smuggling of tobacco is a criminal offence due to tax evasion and funding organised crime. This offence can attract a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment. Five times the amount of duty evaded can also be imposed on the offender.