(LAWFUEL) – A joint Customs, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and South Australian Police (SAPOL) investigation led to the discovery of a clandestine laboratory and the arrest late yesterday of a 26-year-old Kilburn man in connection with the illegal importation of precursor chemicals used to produce methamphetamine (ice).
AFP and SAPOL uncovered the clandestine laboratory at an Adelaide address late yesterday. Search warrants were also executed at residential addresses in Seaview Downs, Springfield and Kilburn and on a vehicle yesterday, with documents and computers seized.
The investigation began when Customs officers examined an air cargo consignment from India at Adelaide International Airport on 16 September.
The cargo consisted of five drums and was described as containing the plant extract Sida Cordifolia. Preliminary testing of the substance indicated the presence of ephedrine, a border controlled precursor chemical used to produce methamphetamine.
Forensic analysis estimated that the 128 kilogram consignment contained approximately six kilograms of ephedrine, enough to make more than four kilograms of methamphetamine with a potential street value of $1.9 million.
AFP National Manager Border and International Paul Osborne said the seizure had saved the community more than $1.3 million in associated health and social costs.
“This makeshift laboratory was dangerous to the community and a risk to the environment – each kilogram of methamphetamine generated in a clan lab results in as much as five kilograms of toxic waste,” Commander Osborne said.
Customs National Manager Investigations, Richard Janeczko, said the operation demonstrated the benefits of close co-operation between law enforcement authorities.
“A detection by Customs at the border can lead to the interruption of significant criminal activity domestically. Working together with our partner agencies we can protect the community from significant harm,” Mr Janeczko said.
Officer in Charge of SAPOL’s Drug Investigation Branch, Detective Superintendent Linda Fellows said the production of illicit drugs in clandestine drug laboratories causes real harm to the community.
“This investigation demonstrates the benefit of law enforcement agencies working together to disrupt this sort of illegal drug activity,” Detective Superintendent Fellows said.
AFP Agents charged the man with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled precursor contrary to Section 307.11 of the Criminal Code Act 1995.
The man was granted bail to reappear in Adelaide Magistrates Court on
The maximum penalty for this offence is 25 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $550,000.