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Record ecstasy seizure by Australian Federal Police.

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Minister for Justice and Customs

27 April 2003

Record ecstasy seizure by Australian Federal Police

Five men have been arrested by the Australian Federal Police and another six have been arrested in Malaysia in relation to the biggest quantity of ecstasy powder ever seized in Australia, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison said today.

Senator Ellison said the 14-month AFP investigation, which involved considerable cooperation with overseas law enforcement agencies and in particular the Royal Malaysian Police (RMP), was believed to have severely disrupted the activities of an international drug trafficking syndicate.

The 170 kilogram shipment of ecstasy powder was located in a shipment of 36 freezers which had been imported to Sydney from Malaysia on 20 April.

"With an estimated purity level of 85 per cent, this haul of ecstasy could be manufactured into more than 440 kilograms of tablets with an estimated street value of more than $90 million," Senator Ellison said.

"This is the biggest seizure of pure ecstasy in Australia, with an estimated potential to produce more than one million hits. Outstanding work by the Australian Federal Police has again stopped a significant quantity of deadly narcotics reaching the Australian community."

Senator Ellison said this investigation - named Operation Taglia - had highlighted the invaluable work by the AFP's international Liaison Officer Network, which was recently expanded by the Commonwealth Government.

"AFP agents stationed in Kuala Lumpur have worked closely with the Royal Malaysian Police since February in gathering intelligence information about the alleged drug trafficking activities of syndicate members in both countries," Senator Ellison said.

"This cooperation extended to two RMP members travelling to Sydney to assist with AFP investigations and the arrest in Malaysia of several people allegedly connected with the syndicate members arrested in Australia."

Senator Ellison said the AFP investigation had identified the sea container which arrived in Sydney and Customs officers assisted by examining the container and locating the 170 kilograms of ecstasy powder. AFP agents substituted the drug with an inert substance and conducted surveillance on the container.

The alleged organiser of the importation, a 38-year-old Dutch national who resides in Malaysia, was arrested on Thursday (24 April) at Sydney International Airport when he attempted to leave Australia. The AFP arrested another four people, as well as locating a pill press and a substantial quantity of mixing agent, during eight search warrants across Sydney yesterday (26 April).

In Malaysia, the RMP has arrested six people who are alleged members of the drug trafficking syndicate under investigation for the importation of this record Australian seizure.

The four men arrested in Sydney are a 44-year-old British national, of Glebe, a 28-year-old Australian, of Bondi, a 29-year-old Australian, of Gymea, and a 31-year-old man, of Manly. All four are due to appear in Parramatta Local Court in Sydney today (27 April) charged with aiding and abetting in the importation of a prohibited drug.

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