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Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Ecstasy crime ring smashed,


highly sophisticated drug ring has been smashed by federal authorities with the seizure of a record haul of a precursor drug capable of producing $70 million worth of ecstasy. Customs intercepted more than 2800 litres of safrole oil (an extract of the sassafras plant) in three shipments from China to Sydney's Port Botany between April and August. The oil was concealed in bottles labelled as shampoo and cleaning products. Advertisement: Story continues below In a joint statement, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said there was enough of the banned chemical to produce almost 235kg of MDMA or 2.3 million ecstasy tablets. Three Australian men were arrested during an operation involving more than 50 Australian Federal Police officers in Sydney on Wednesday morning. If found guilty, they face up to 25 years in jail and fines of up to $550,000. "We're not here to play. We're here to do as much damage to these people as we possibly can," AFP Assistant Commissioner Kevin Zuccato told reporters. "This is a significant blow, as far as I'm concerned, a lethal blow to this particular syndicate." Mr Zuccato said the haul was the largest in Australia and showed a highly organised crime ring was at work. "When you look at the sophistication of this syndicate ... there was no backyard lab," he said. "This was going to be a very sophisticated, super-lab as far as I'm concerned." Investigations into the syndicate were continuing and more arrests were possible, he added. Customs spokeswoman Michele Harper said the investigation demonstrated the effectiveness of Australian law enforcement in detecting even the most sophisticated drug concealment methods. "Customs and Border Protection continues to adapt its technology, and targeting and examination capabilities to counter the evolving methods used by drug importation syndicates," she said. A 27-year-old man from Lurnea and a 35-year-old man from North Parramatta were charged with importation of a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. A 33-year-old man from Merrylands was charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime. All three are expected to appear in Sydney's Central Local Court on Thursday.


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