Australia: Int'l Meth Ring Busted

A multi-agency Australian task force arrested six individuals in connection with an international methamphetamine smuggling ring, seizing millions of dollars in cash and drugs and impounding a Lamborghini in the process, according to a press release by Victoria Police.

Police seized over 42 kg of drugs, more than $9 million in cash and residential property, over $600,000 in poker chips, and the Lamborghini, in 37 separate searches which took place on March 20-22. The six who were arrested face a number of charges related to drug smuggling and money laundering, most notably trafficking a commercial quantity of drugs; if convicted, the accused could face life in prison.

The searches and arrests marked the latest success of a multi-national operation against a transnational trafficking group. The operation, code-named Volante, has seen a total of 26 individuals arrested since it began in April 2012.

Methamphetamine (also known as Ice) is extremely popular in Australia, and authorities have been clamping down on increased trafficking of the drug. In March, the Australian Federal Police seized a record 568 kg of the drug in the culmination of another long-term interagency operation. “Ice availability has been increasing” in Australia recently, but authorities expect that continued arrests will “dramatically affect that availability,” according to Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Stephen Fontana.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian Tax Office, Australian Crime Commission and Victoria Police cooperated in a special domestic task force. Law enforcement agencies from China, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar and Hong Kong were involved in the investigation. The global nature of the crime and the investigation “shows how successful joint partnerships are in combating organized crime groups,” AFP Manager for Serious and Organized Crime David Sharpe said.

Operation Volante is ongoing, and further arrests are expected both in Australia and abroad, according to Victoria police.