TWO men have been charged over a major drug bust, with authorities seizing 20kg of cannabis and methamphetamine — worth an estimated $3.2 million — at Perth Airport. The joint WA Police and Australian Border Force operation, which took place over four days last week, resulted in the seizure of separate quantities of 17kg of cannabis and 3kg of methamphetamine, which is valued at $3 million.
Drug detection dogs from the WA Police canine unit were also involved, along with x-ray machines, which were used to target people bringing drugs into WA on domestic flights.
The Police Meth Transport Team was formed as part of the WA Police Meth Enforcement Action Plan and is tasked with policing transport hubs and gateways to target the supply of methamphetamine and other prohibited drugs into WA.
Two men, a 40-year-old from Sydney and a 40-year-old from Melbourne have been charged over the drug seizures and are behind bars in WA.
The NSW man, from the Sydney suburb of Liverpool, has been charged with possessing a prohibited drug (methamphetamine) with intent to sell or supply the drug.
The Victorian man, from St Albans in Melbourne, has been charged with possessing a prohibited drug with intent to sell or supply in relation to the $200,000 worth of cannabis.
The cannabis was allegedly found in vacuum-sealed bags in a suitcase on a Melbourne-Perth flight on April 6.
Detective Senior Sergeant Jason Blaine said the joint drug investigation had stopped about 30,000 hits of crystal methamphetamine and a large amount of cannabis from hitting WA streets.
“The operation involved checking luggage of passengers travelling East to West as part of our strategy to stop the flow of methamphetamine and other illicit drugs coming into Western Australia,’’ he said.
“We had canine detection dogs and x-ray machines to detect people bringing drugs into WA on domestic flights. This is a high-end drug seizure.
“This operation is part of our Methamphetamine Enforcement Action plan. The Methamphetamine Transport Team have created the strategy and it will happen more often.’’
Australian Border Force Superintendent Emma Newman said: “We are unaware at this point where the drugs originated from, whether they were onshore or offshore”.
“The ABF provided our mobile x-ray units which are vehicles equipped with all x-ray technologies and other trace-detector technologies for the purpose off supporting the MTT in the operation, and help detect and screen luggage.
“We do this routinely with other agencies as well.’’
Supt. Newman said in the 2014-15 financial year, there were 14,800 detections of major drugs and drug precursors nationwide, weighing more than 7.3 tonnes — an increase of more than 3500 detections on the previous year.
“The bags would’ve gone through a screening process by the Airport Corporation that screens everything that goes onto a plane, typically though they relate to explosives and liquids,” she said.
“They wouldn’t have been screened by the ABF in a domestic space. As a matter of course, Border Force doesn’t operate at domestic airports.”