Authorities shut down European drug syndicate

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A 26-year-old French national was arrested and charged today in Sydney for his alleged role in a European syndicate suspected of using tourists, including students and backpackers, to distribute illegal drugs imported from France.

Over a six-month period, a joint Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) operation has intercepted about 40 packages of MDMA and cocaine linked to the syndicate. The drugs, which have an estimated value of up to AUD 3.3 million, were hidden in wine bottles, potato chip packets and chilli paste that were either packed in luggage or sent via the post.

The operation has now resulted in three French nationals and one Belgian national being arrested and charged for their role in the syndicate since March 2018.

NSW Police have also arrested and charged eight people, including students and backpackers, for their role in trafficking the drugs. See related media release here.

AFP Detective Superintendent Paul Hopkins said the operation demonstrates the AFP and ABF’s shared commitment to stopping harmful drugs from reaching the Australian community.

“With about 40 packages of MDMA and cocaine seized, each ranging from 100gms to more than 200gms, this has been a complex and unique investigation,” Detective Superintendent Hopkins said.

“Together, these packages equate to a large commercial amount of illegal drugs that we know would have had significant and tragic impacts on individuals, families and whole communities.”

ABF Commander Investigations, Graeme Grosse, said the operation highlights the measures criminals use to import illegal drugs.

“The creative and ever-changing methods used by criminals to import drugs speak to the worrying demand for them in Australia. It also makes it clear stopping the inflow of drugs into our country is a whole-of-community issue, not just one for authorities to tackle,” Commander Grosse said.

“We hope this operation sends a message, if you’re thinking of buying, selling or transporting illicit drugs, the penalties are severe and it’s simply not worth the risk – we will catch you.”

Source: Australian Federal Police