Marc Stapelberg

Raids across NSW net 300kgs of drugs

DRUG Squad detectives have seized pseudoephedrine with the potential to make up to $75 million worth of the drug "ice" in an operation spanning 16 locations across NSW.

Detectives attached to Strike Force Garner are investigating a syndicate that has been importing drugs by concealing them in shipping containers.

The drugs - mostly pseudoephedrine, which is used to make methylamphetamine, also known as "ice" - are packed into rectangular metal boxes and then hidden in the containers' frames.

It appears that on this occasion, the syndicate somehow lost track of several shipping containers, which were subsequently emptied of their cargo. They were then sold as storage containers to legitimate businesses and farms across the state - with the drugs still inside.

Acting on information received, police attended a container yard at Chipping Norton on 7 December 2011, where they found drugs secreted in four shipping containers.

They have since been working closely with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to track down more than 20 additional containers.

Sixteen more containers were searched today (Wednesday 21 December 2011) at locations across NSW. These include the Sydney suburbs of Alexandria, Badgerys Creek, Cobbity and Kentlyn, as well as Lithgow, Bathurst, Lue (near Mudgee; two containers), Dubbo, Spicy Creek (near Wellington), Yass, Cooma, Tamworth, Wagga Wagga, Blayney and Curlewis (near Gunnedah).

More searches are expected in other locations this afternoon and later this week.

Forensic examination of the drugs is continuing. However, it is estimated that over 300 kg of pseudoephedrine has been seized to date. This could potentially make methylamphetamine with a street value of up to $75 million.

"The containers' new owners were quite surprised to find out what was hidden inside," Detective Inspector Steve Patton, officer in charge of Strike Force Garner, said.

"We have a number of suspects and our inquiries are continuing," Det Insp Patton said.

Strike Forcer Garner comprises detectives from the State Crime Command's Drug Squad and Liverpool Local Area Command.

Anyone with information that may assist detectives can share it anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

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