Two customs agents and an information technology worker appeared in a court yesterday charged with drug offenses over Australia’s largest seizure of methamphetamine, which had been smuggled to Melbourne from Bangkok in stereo speakers.
Police estimate the 1.6 tonnes of the drug, also known as ice and crystal meth, had a street value of A$1.197 billion (US$817.4 million).
The 37kg of heroin also seized was the largest haul of that drug in Australia since 2017, a police statement said.
“It’s almost a quarter of the annual usage in Australia, so this will have an impact,” Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan told reporters, referring to the crystal meth.
Married customs agents Rachel Cachia, 37, and Donovan Rodrigues, 38 appeared with their co-accused Stephen Mizzi, 37, in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on drug importation charges that carry potential life prison sentences.
They did not enter pleas or apply for bail. They will remain in custody until they appear in court next on May 7.
Customs agents are private-sector employees who facilitate cargo movements through ports.
They do not have security clearance, but operate as independent import-export experts who know how the system works.
“They are trusted insiders in the industry. They used their position of trust to circumvent the border controls that exist within Australia,” Gaughan said. “This vulnerability has been fully removed.”
Police were now working toward bringing the bosses of the operation to justice, he said.
The three were arrested after police executed search warrants on Wednesday at several Melbourne properties.
Australian Border Force officers in April detected the haul in vacuum-sealed packages concealed in speakers at the Melbourne waterfront in April.
The drug shipment arrived from Thailand, but Australian authorities suspect it originated from another country.
Chinese state media blasted television host John Oliver’s comedy segment on Taiwan, saying that he “dodged facts” and misled the public about the nation. “As a comedian show that sometimes covers politics, it is not surprising that it didn’t take the issue seriously,” the Global Times said in an opinion piece on Tuesday. “Yet it reflected that most Westerners don’t know why the Taiwan question matters and they don’t care about it,” the op-ed added. The English-language newspaper is the Chinese government’s main vehicle for communicating unofficial government messages to Western audiences. During the segment, Oliver sought to untangle the complicated relationship between Taiwan
Sri Lanka has barred a Chinese ship carrying desperately needed organic fertilizer that experts have found to be tainted with harmful bacteria, officials said yesterday. The ban comes as Sri Lanka battles food shortages caused by a currency crisis. Farmers have said that a ban on chemical fertilizer could ruin their crops this year. The office of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that the Sri Lankan National Plant Quarantine Services had tested a sample from the unnamed Chinese vessel and “confirmed the presence of organisms, including certain types of harmful bacteria.” The Sri Lankan Commercial High Court has banned any payment to
PROMPTING MOCKERY : A cryptic announcement of the pianist’s detention by Beijing police was followed by CCTV commenting on the ‘social morality’ of celebrities Concert pianist Li Yundi (李雲迪), one of China’s most famous musicians, has been detained in Beijing over prostitution allegations, state media said on Thursday, prompting some incredulity and a lot of mockery on Chinese social media. Reuters was unable to immediately reach Li or a representative for comment. Police in the Chinese capital’s Chaoyang District said they had detained a 39-year-old man surnamed Li, along with a 29-year-old female surnamed Chen, after receiving reports from the public of prostitution in a neighborhood they did not identify. Both people confessed to the illegal activity, the police said in a statement on a microblogging platform. The
DEMAND-DRIVEN: The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, said law enforcement has allowed palm oil plantations on UNESCO sites, parks and tiger habitats Almost one-fifth of the land used for Indonesian palm oil plantations is located in the country’s forest conservation areas, despite a law banning such activity, a study by Greenpeace has found. The report, produced by Greenpeace and TheTreeMap, describes a catastrophic failure of law enforcement that has permitted swathes of land — including UNESCO sites, national parks and areas mapped as habitats for orangutans and Sumatran tigers — to be cultivated as palm oil plantations. Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, which is used in many everyday products and foods, from shampoo and lipstick to chocolate and frozen pizzas. However,