Police seized more than one tonne of drugs and arrested members of a drug supply network on Wednesday as part of a six-month investigation involving an outlaw motorcycle gang.
Following an extortion tip-off involving members of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang in December 2016, at least 1.4 tonnes of ephedrine was located hidden in buckets in a shipping container on Saturday -- making it the largest seizure of the stimulant drug on record -- according to a statement.
Members of the NSW Police, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Patrol (ABP) then acted on 28 different search warrants and raided homes in NSW and the ACT around 7am on Wednesday and arrested 11 men and 2 women aged between 19 and 60 in relation to the drugs seizure.
"This is the largest ephedrine seizure on record and the biggest seizure of precursor chemicals at the Australian border," the statement said.
"It is estimated the amount of ephedrine could make up to 1.3 tonnes of ice, with an estimated potential street value of $650 million.
"During the warrants, officers seized five handguns, 6kg of ice, 10kg of ephedrine, a portable clandestine laboratory, and more than $2 million cash."
NSW Police charged each of the 13 arrested individuals on Wednesday night with crimes ranging from the possession of unregistered firearms to the import, manufacture and supply of prohibited drugs and participation in a criminal group. Eleven of the 13 individuals were refused bail and are expected to appear at local courts on Thursday.
One 25-year-old Penrith man was charged with detaining a person with the intent to obtain advantage, being armed with intent to commit an indictable offence, stalking and intimidating and participating in a criminal group. He was also refused bail and is set to appear at Penrith Local Court on July 14.
Another 32-year-old ACT man was also refused bail and appeared at ACT Magistrates Court before being extradited to NSW.
An investigation into a threat by bikies has resulted in the largest seizure of ephedrine on record & the arrest of a drug supply syndicate pic.twitter.com/MO6MxRczLL— NSW Police (@nswpolice) June 28, 2017
The arrests put a halt on what police believe is a "large-scale importation of border controlled drugs" and a "multi-million dollar drug supply network".
NSW Police Force Commissioner Mick Fuller said: "This investigation is another example of the multifaceted nature of modern organised crime and the changing face of their structures, networks, and associations.
"This is a significant disruption to the supply of a heinous drug that destroys lives right across the state. NSW Police will continue to investigate, disrupt and respond to crime to make our streets safer."
Update on NSW/ACT bikie raids: 12 men arrested, $2m cash and 5 handguns seized and 27 search warrants carried out @smh— Ava Benny-Morrison (@avabmorrison) June 28, 2017
Authorities also believe the seizure will put a stop to more than 13 million individual hits of ice in NSW and the ACT "before it could make its way into the community".
"The 1.4 tonnes of ephedrine was seized before it crossed our border, before it could be used to make 1.3 tonnes of crystal methamphetamine and before it could make its way into the community," Acting ABF Commissioner Michael Outram said.
"This operation is testament to what can be achieved when authorities join forces and work together to achieve a common goal."
Police urge anyone with information in relation drug supply to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Information about the illicit importation of substances can also be provided to Border Watch on 1800 061 800.
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