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Customs seize heroin worth $2 million from suitcase.



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Media Release

SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator for Western Australia

E20/03 26 February 2003

Customs seize heroin worth $2 million from suitcase

Customs officers at Sydney Airport located more than 2kg of heroin allegedly concealed in the baggage of a man who had arrived on a flight from Hong Kong yesterday, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison said today.

“When Customs officers x-rayed the man’s suitcase, they detected a false compartment,” Senator Ellison said. “The suitcase was then subjected to an ionscan particle analysis examination which returned a positive reading for drugs.”

“A later and more detailed forensic examination of the suitcase by the Australian Federal Police identified the substance in the false compartment as heroin.”

Although the exact amount and purity of the drug has still to be determined, it is estimated the weight of the heroin is approximately 2.8kg.

“This quantity of drugs is equivalent to at least 20,000 hits with a potential street value of more than $2 million,” Senator Ellison said.

“Once again, outstanding work by Customs has stopped a deadly quantity of narcotics from reaching the Australian community, preventing the drug from causing untold harm and misery.”

A 27-year-old Japanese national, from Hokkaido, has been charged by AFP with importing a prohibited import. He is due to appear in Central Local Court in Sydney today.

The maximum penalty for drug trafficking offences is a fine of up to $750,000 and/or life imprisonment.

Media Note - Doorstop: The Minister will be available for comment at 3.30pm (Sydney time) today (Wednesday 26 February) at the AUSTRAC office in Sydney, the Zenith Centre, Tower A, corner of McIntosh and Railway Streets, Chatswood.

Media inquiries: Mairi Barton Ph 02/6277 7260 or 0439 300 335