Imported horse ornaments hid 10.9kg of methamphetamine – Aussie police

The ceramic horses were found to contain methamphetamine. Photo: Australian Federal Police
The ceramic horses were found to contain methamphetamine. Photo: Australian Federal Police

Ceramic horse statues were used in a bid to smuggle 10.9 kilograms of methamphetamine into Australia, according to federal police.

Police say they have dismantled a Melbourne drug ring in a three-month operation, which resulted in the arrest of four men.

In all, nearly 15 kilograms of methamphetamine was seized in the investigation, dubbed Operation Conure.

It began on November 24, 2015 when Australian Border Force officers intercepted a consignment destined for Broadmeadows, Victoria. The shipment contained ceramic horse statues allegedly filled with 10.9 kilograms of methamphetamine.

The matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police for further investigation. On December 1, 2015 a controlled delivery was conducted and three persons of interest were identified by police.

After further inquiries, officers identified a fourth person of interest – a 30-year-old Sierra Leone man alleged to be the organiser of the importation in the horse statues.

Police also uncovered alleged links between this person and a 2.4 kilogram methamphetamine importation in November 2015.

It will be alleged that these four men were operating a drug syndicate and can be linked to other methamphetamine seizures in the Melbourne area, including a further 1.5 kilogram methamphetamine seizure last year.

Acting on this information, federal police officers executed four search warrants across Melbourne on Wednesday.

The horse statues contained 10.9kg of methamphetamine in total. Photo: Australian Federal Police
The horse statues contained 10.9kg of methamphetamine in total, authorities allege. Photo: Australian Federal Police

The 30-year-old Sierra Leone man was arrested in the suburb of Truganina; a 28-year-old Liberian man was arrested in Wyndham North; a 26-year-old Liberian man was arrested in St Albans; and a 21-year-old Australian national was arrested in Sunshine.

All four men have been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, methamphetamine and attempting to possess an unlawfully imported substance.

Superintendent Matt Warren, the coordinator of crime operations in Victoria for the federal police, said the arrests had effectively shut down a sophisticated drug ring.

“We will allege this group of men attempted to use scatter methods to import drugs into Victoria,” Warren said.

“These arrests are particularly significant given we have managed to charge the alleged organiser of this drug syndicate, which will stop countless more attempts to import this horrendous drug.”

Australian Border Patrol Superintendent Michael Lewis, in the maritime operations division, said the amount of harm these drugs could have caused the community cannot be understated.

“We are very pleased with the results of the operation and are confident our efforts have significantly reduced the amount of drugs being supplied here in Melbourne,” he said.

The maximum penalty for commonwealth importation offences is life imprisonment.

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