10 arrested as two tonnes of pseudoephedrine seized
ALMOST two tonnes of pseudoephedrine and vanilla powder have been seized in a major blow to an international drug-dealing operation.
The 18-month investigation nicknamed Operation Diamondback has also led to the arrest of 10 people, including three Canadian citizens who were picked up by authorities on Sunday.
These three are suspected to be part of the ring that would on-sell the products to other criminal gangs in Australia that would then manufacture the narcotics.
Another five Canadians plus two Australian men have also been charged in relation to Diamondback and their cases are now working through the court system.
In September, police found a storage facility in Victoria that was used to house more than 650kg of pseudoephedrine and vanilla powder mixture.
According to the AFP, that seizure alone could have translated to 100kg of methamphetamine or "ice", which would be worth up to $100 million if sold.
In total, authorities believe Diamondback stopped up to 300kg of methamphetamine hitting the streets, which - depending on its purity - could have been worth up to $300 million.
The AFP, Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Victoria Police and the Australian Crime Commission were all heavily involved in Diamondback.
Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana said the success of Diamondback sent a clear warning to those trying to peddle narcotics in Australia.
"We are watching, we are monitoring and you will be caught," he said.
Australian Crime Commission manager Jonathan Nicholl said using vanilla powder to conceal the pseudoephedrine showed the level of sophistication of these syndicates.
"We're dealing with organised crime groups who are experienced and undertake substantial planning," Mr Nicholl said.
"They use sophisticated methods and techniques, and crimes are generally committed in conjunction with other, similar crimes and syndicates."
The three Canadians were charged on Sunday with trafficking a large commercial quantity of a drug of dependences which carries a maximum penalty of a lifetime in prison.