WASHINGTON – A joint operation between U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) has led to the arrest of five Colombian nationals and prevented 60 kilograms of "Black Ice" methamphetamine, or "meth," from entering Australia.
The operation began Jan. 8 after HSI special agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers in the United States intercepted and seized two consignments containing the drugs, concealed inside water filters and given a black appearance to appear like charcoal. The meth was destined for Australia where the wholesale value is estimated to be $12 million. Special agents from HSI Chicago’s northern Kentucky field office and HSI Singapore worked with the AFP in Sydney to reconstruct the consignments resulting in the controlled operation.
On Feb. 7, the AFP executed search warrants on five Sydney residences in the Central Business District, Burwood, Melrose Park, Ultimo and the Wolli Creek areas.
As a result of the investigation, four men, three aged 24 and one aged 30, were charged in violation of Australian law with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of methamphetamine. A fifth man, aged 25, was charged with importing a commercial quantity of the drug. All were remanded to appear before the Parramatta Local Court Feb. 8.
If convicted, they each face up to 25 years in prison.
"HSI’s coordinated partnership with the Australian Federal Police resulted in the successful disruption of a Colombian drug trafficking organization, which attempted to traffic methamphetamine from Mexico to the United States and ultimately into Australia," said HSI Office of International Affairs Assistant Director John G. Connolly. "HSI’s Office of International Affairs will continue enhancing national security by conducting and coordinating investigations with our foreign and domestic counterparts to combat transnational criminal organizations."
AFP Sydney Commander Ray Johnson said, "The success of this operation was due to the close cooperation with the U.S. authorities. This investigation again shows that Australia, and the Australian community, is continuing to be targeted by international organized crime syndicates. Cutting the supply of illicit drugs to the Australian community relies on our strong partnerships with colleagues nationally and internationally."
HSI Guadalajara, HSI Bogota and CBP assisted in this ongoing investigation.
HSI's Office of International Affairs (OIA) is responsible for enhancing national security by conducting and coordinating international investigations. With agents in 67 offices in 48 countries around the world, OIA represents ICE's broadest footprint beyond our borders. HSI attaché offices work with foreign counterparts to identify and combat transnational criminal organizations before they threaten the United States.