Top organised crime threat in Aus arrested

·2-min read

A man labelled Australia's "most significant organised crime threat" is facing life in prison after allegedly planning to import hundreds of kilograms of heroin hidden in paint drums.

Australian Federal Police officers arrested two men on Thursday, aged 38 and 41, after they allegedly used an encrypted communications platform to plan the 314kg shipment from Thailand.

Little did they know the AN0M platform they were using was covertly run by the FBI, a sting operation that has led to more than 220 arrests across Australia.

After intercepting the men's communications, officers searched two homes in June and July, seizing several devices, a knuckle duster, a butterfly knife and a small amount of MDMA.

They then spent four months scouring the men's messages, linking their online pseudonyms to their real world identities and prompting their arrests.

Police again searched two homes on Thursday, this time at Edensor Park and Cambridge Park, seizing $300,000 in cryptocurrency, $12,000 in cash, a luxury watch worth $50,000, steroids and cannabis.

The arrests are a big win for police, who say the 38-year-old was a "priority target" for Australian authorities - the only one on our shores.

"Most of these targeted people have moved offshore in an attempt to evade law enforcement," AFP Detective Superintendent Matthew Ciantar said on Friday.

The man is a "well established" criminal, Det Supt Ciantar said, someone whom authorities had been monitoring for several years.

He has been charged with conspiring to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, possessing two prohibited weapons, and possession of a prohibited substance.

The 41-year-old man has also been charged with conspiring to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

More arrests - both in Australia and overseas - will soon be made over the attempted importation.

"(Police have been) poring over messages, connecting things, working long hours with Thai authorities to make sure that we've got everything squared away and that all the bits and pieces of evidence are available to us," Det Supt Ciantar said.

"We will continue (that)... to ensure that we've left no stone unturned, and that certainly all the offshore leads are followed up."

The importation, which police estimate is worth $117 million dollars, is almost equal to the amount of heroin - 380kg - seized in NSW in the two years before.

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