Three St George men have been charged and half a tonne of methylamphetamine worth nearly $400 million has been seized, after a joint investigation uncovered a major drug syndicate operating in NSW.
In late 2018, detectives from the NSW Police Force Organised Crime Squad, investigators from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, NSW Crime Commission and Western Australian Police Force established Strike Force Fergerson to investigate an international criminal network involved in the importation and supply of illicit drugs.
The investigation has also been assisted by Australian Border Force (ABF) and Australian Federal Police.
As part of inquiries, ABF officers examined a container declared to contain clothing at the Sydney Container Examination Facility in June 2019.
During a subsequent deconstruction of the consignment, six of the 10 pallets were found to contain 500 packages of a white crystalline substance.
Forensic analysis determined the packages contained a total of 500kg of methylamphetamine, which has an estimated potential street value of $375 million.
The drugs have since been seized and as part of ongoing investigations, police recovered $200,000 cash.
Following extensive inquiries, strike force detectives arrested a man, 35, while walking down the street at Wolli Creek just after midday on Thursday, July 4.
A short time later, investigators arrested a man, 55, at Westfield shopping centre at Hurstville.
Two further men aged 33 and 36 were arrested at a home at Carlton and a home unit at Rhodes.
Three search warrants were subsequently executed at home units including at Wolli Creek, and a home at Hurstville.
During the searches, police seized mobile phones, electronic devices, documentation, and more than $10,000 cash.
The 35-year-old man was charged with supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity), and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.
The 55-year-old man, who is a Canadian National, was charged with supply prohibited drug (large commercial quantity), deal with property proceeds of crime, and participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.
The 33-year-old man was charged with participate criminal group contribute criminal activity.
Police will allege in court that the group took part in the supply of methylamphetamine.
They have all been refused bail to appear at Sutherland Local Court today, Friday, June 5.
The 36-year-old man was charged with deal with property proceeds of crime.
He was granted conditional bail to appear at Burwood Local Court on August 12.
State Crime Commander, Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith, says investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the drugs.
"This has been a complex, multi-layered investigation by strike force investigators who have been relentless in their pursuit of dismantling this particular syndicate with international links," Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.
"We have disrupted their activities utilising covert and intelligence-based resources to identify locations and links and associations of syndicate members, but we are not nave enough to think our job is done.
"The Organised Crime Squad and the entire NSW Police Force is focused on working with our partners on targeting the criminal networks who import, manufacture, and supply illicit drugs.
"This operation doesn't stop with these arrests. We will be following every thread of information, with the assistance of our partners - both here in Australia and across the globe - and the community can be confident we will investigate, arrest and put people before the courts," Acting Assistant Commissioner Smith said.
Minister for Police, David Elliott MP, says he is committed to keeping these harmful drugs off the streets of NSW and will continue to support significant resources dedicated to tackling organised crime.
"This poison is destroying our state and I will support police who are out on the streets dealing with this, along with their emergency services partners, to help reduce any risk of harm to the people of NSW," Minister Elliott said.
"The community benefits every time we take drugs out of the hands of criminals and this result is a further demonstration of the ability of law enforcement agencies."
Joint investigations are continuing, and further arrests are expected.