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Feature: Drug trafficking at Sydney Airport

In April and May 2019, we worked with our partners to shut down a drug trafficking ring operating at Sydney Airport.

A joint operation involving the ACIC, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Border Force, the New South Wales Police Force and the Department of Home Affairs began to investigate the activities of an alleged criminal syndicate in February 2019.

On the basis of extensive investigations, detectives allege that a 50-year-old man from Oran Park who worked for a service provider at the airport was using his airside access to import cocaine in the baggage holds of commercial flights. The investigations also identified two men, aged 42 and 47, who allegedly received the bags once they had been removed from the aircraft.

On 15 April 2019, Australian Federal Police officers arrested the 42-year-old man near Sydney Airport. Police allege that a search of the man’s vehicle uncovered a black duffel bag containing about 27 kilograms of vacuum-sealed packages believed to contain cocaine. The man was arrested and charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

Investigations continued, and on 22 May 2019 police arrested the 50-year-old airport employee near the airport. He was found in possession of a bag containing about 28 kilograms of a substance believed to be cocaine. Later the same day, the 47-year-old man was arrested outside his Moorebank house for his alleged role in receiving the drugs from the Oran Park man.

That evening, investigators executed search warrants in the Sydney suburbs of Oran Park, Moorebank, Hoxton Park and Revesby. Approximately $8 million in cash was seized at a Hoxton Park location linked to the 50-year-old Oran Park man.

The two men arrested on 22 May were each charged with six counts of importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs. If convicted, they could face life imprisonment.

This investigation proves the value of intelligence-led policing and law enforcement partnerships. Our intelligence uncovered this alleged drug trafficking ring and allowed Australian authorities to disrupt a criminal network causing immense harm to the community. Investigations are ongoing.