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Over 100,000 ecstasy tablets prevented from hitting streets.



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Media Release

SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs

Manager of Government Business in the Senate Senator for Western Australia

E120 /0 5 19 September 2005

Over 100,000 ecstasy tablets prevented from hitting streets

More than 24 kilograms of MDMA (ecstasy) tablets have been seized and three men arrested following a joint operation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Customs in Melbourne, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison said today.

Senator Ellison said the seizure of approximately 115,000 tablets, which has a street value of approximately $4.7 million, was detected by Customs a t its Melbourne Container Examination Facility (CEF) after arriving from overseas.

“This seizure once again demonstrates the value of Customs Container Examination Facilities in helping to prevent drugs and other harmful goods from entering the country,” Senator Ellison said.

“The state -of -the -art technology, coupled with our highly trained staff and close cooperation with other border agencies such as the Australian Federal Police is delivering excellent results in the fight against drug trafficking."

Information received by the Customs Hotline number (1800 06 1800) led to the examination of a shipping container of furniture from Belgium. Further information was later received from Belgian Customs confirming the shipment was suspicious.

The container o riginated in Belgium and arrived on a vessel from Europe in Melbourne. The container was brought to Customs CEF in Port Melbourne where x -rays revealed inconsistencies within the cargo. On closer inspection, the container held furniture. Customs Officers drilled a small hole in the furniture and a quantity of powder was extracted. The powder later tested positive to illegal narcotics.

AFP Agents assisted by Customs Officers executed simultaneous search warrants at four different residential premises acr oss Melbourne late yesterday. A number of items were seized during the warrants, including large sums of money and the furniture.

The men appeared before a bail justice early this morning where they were formally charged and remanded in custody to re -app ear at Melbourne Magistrates Court today (September 19) at 2pm.

A 64 -year -old Nunawading man was charged with one count of importing a commercial quantity of a prohibited import, one count of attempt to posses commercial quantity of prohibited import and one count of aid and abet the importation into Australia of prohibited imports, contrary to the Customs Act (1901).

A 33 -year -old East St Kilda man was charged with one count of aid and abet the importation of a commercial quantity of a prohibited import and one count of attempt to posses a commercial quantity of a prohibited import.

A 35 -year -old Carnegie man was charged with one count of import a commercial quantity of a prohibited import and one count of attempt to posses a commercial quantity of a pro hibited import.

The trafficking of such an alleged quantity of illicit drugs carries a penalty of life imprisonment.

Media enquiries: Brad Burke Ph 02/6277 7260 or 0417 749 711

http:// www.ag.gov.au/www/justiceministerHome.nsf