AFP sting operation uncovers 3kg of hidden heroin
A Sydney man has faced court after an Australian Federal Police sting operation uncovered three kilograms of heroin hidden inside a package of silk table runners sent from Thailand.
Tonh Vongphachanh, 31, faced Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday and is due back for a mention on May 3.
He will have to show cause as to why he should be given bail if he applies for release.
Vongphachanh has been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of heroin.
After Australian Border Force officers raised suspicions about the package labelled "cloth'' at a Sydney importation facility in February, AFP investigators replaced the drugs and sent the delivery on.
Police allege the package was shipped to a person Vongphachanh knew, not his own Bonnyrigg home in western Sydney, in a bid to avoid detection.
He was arrested after allegedly trying to collect the package on March 3.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
AFP Sergeant Alex Drummond says the drug seizure prevented $3.9 million worth of harm to the community.
"Illicit drug use causes a significant burden to the Australian economy," he said.
"The estimated total social costs for every kilogram of opioids is more than $1.3 million through crime, loss of productivity, emergency treatment and increased health-care costs."
The heroin is estimated to have a street value of $1.27 million.
AFP officers seized more than $10,000 worth of luxury items - including Louis Vuitton, Yves Saint Lauren and Gucci handbags - to be investigated as suspected proceeds of crime when they searched Vongphachanh's home.
ABF Superintendent Tina Tizzone praised the work of the officers involved in the drug bust.
"Criminals will try to hide illicit substances in a variety of creative ways,'' she said.
"However, our officers have many detection methods at their disposal, with officer intuition and use of innovative technologies often the driving forces behind these kind of discoveries."