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Customs busts second NSW drug case in two days.



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Senator the Hon Chris Ellison Minister for Justice and Customs

20 April 2004

Customs busts second NSW drug case in two days

Customs has again been successful in seizing a large quantity of drugs that are a vital ingredient in the manufacture of the illicit drug methamphetamine, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, said today.

"Once more, Customs has demonstrated that it has the ability to prevent potentially dangerous substances, including precursor chemicals, from reaching the community," Senator Ellison said.

Some 11.4kg of pure ephedrine was found in four parcels, sent from South Africa, by Customs officers working at the Qantas Mail Handling Unit at Mascot in Sydney.

The ephedrine discovery led to Customs investigations officers, assisted by NSW Police, executing search warrants at several premises in the Sydney area yesterday.

A large quantity of cash was located at one of the premises.

"These latest drugs that were detected are estimated to have had a street value of nearly $12 million, when cut to five per cent purity," Senator Ellison said.

A man, from Leumeah, in Sydney?s south west, has been charged with importing a prohibited import. He was due to appear in court in Sydney today.

The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $110,000, imprisonment for five years, or both.

This case follows yesterday?s announcement of an unconnected operation involving Customs and NSW and Victoria Police which resulted in the seizure of more than 450,000 tablets, all believed to be pseudoephedrine, and charges being laid against three men ? one in Albury in southern NSW ? and two in Victoria, in Melbourne and outside Bendigo.

"Customs officers are to be congratulated for their vigilance in protecting our border and working to keep Australia safe," Senator Ellison said.

Seized drugs available for viewing at media conference at 3:30 pm today, 3rd floor, Tower Block, Sydney Central building, 477 Pitt Street, Sydney (contact Chris Schofield, Customs, 0418 281 501)

Media Inquiries: Simon Troeth (02) 6277 7260/(0439) 300 335