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Police task force smashes drug import networks


Millions of dollars worth of drugs and 10 firearms have been seized over a six-month period by a multi-agency Queensland operation targeting criminal networks.

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Investigators have uncovered a series of “creative attempts” to shift drugs through the postal system including hiding narcotics in the lining of cardboard boxes, within picture frames or “impregnated” in clothing.

A cache of drugs including almost 400 kilograms of cannabis, 67 litres of GBH, six kilograms of cocaine and two kilograms of meth has been seized over a six-month operation in Queensland.

The multi-agency Taskforce Sentry began in February with the remit of “dismantling criminal networks attempting to import illicit drugs and firearms into Queensland”.

More than $19 million in drug border seizures was also referred to the taskforce for investigation.

Among the alleged discoveries was a kilogram of cocaine concealed in car parts sent from Italy, eight kilos hidden inside modelling clay from the UK and 3.3 kilos of heroin concealed inside boxes of disposable gloves from Vietnam.

The matters are all currently before the courts.

A total of 90 people have been charged with 414 offences including drug trafficking, production and possession.

“As a result of excellent cooperation and investigative work, Taskforce Sentry has seized 10 firearms, $2.6 million cash and $10.7 million worth of drugs, bringing the total value of drugs seized from criminal networks operating in Queensland to close to $30 million,” said Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Katherine Innes.

“Organised crime syndicates use their networks across the country, and across the world, to facilitate a range of criminal activities including the activities linked to the illicit drug and firearm trades.”

Australia is considered a “really attractive target” because of the high price of illicit drugs.

Nationwide, there have been 32,000 narcotic detections since the start of the year, equating to 140 a day, Australian Border Force Assistant Commissioner Tim Fitzgerald said.

He said there had been a shift toward personal use amounts of drugs being discovered during the pandemic, speculating that people in lockdown had taken to ordering narcotics from the dark web.

Taskforce Sentry also provided tactical support to other drug operations, including the AFP-led Operation Ironside.

It assisted in dismantling a Brisbane-based drug syndicate allegedly hiding drugs inside hard drives mailed from the United States.

Police removed the drugs before delivering packages to a Woolloongabba address on May 17, where a criminal safehouse was discovered and three people subsequently arrested.

Taskforce Sentry is made up of members of the Queensland Police Crime and Intelligence Command, the AFP, Australian Border Force and Department of Home Affairs.

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