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Police execute $80m, 80kg ice blast in NSW, Qld and WA

Five men have been charged in connection with a major $80 million ice blast that spanned three states, encompassed ‘devastating’ amounts of drugs and was ‘like making pasta but illegal’.

Police have seized 80kg of methylamphetamine, firearms and $1.7million in cash following a multi-agency operation in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

Investigations began earlier this year into an alleged criminal syndicate suspected of involvement in the importing, stockpiling and supply of illicit drugs.

Operation PHOBETOR was then created, a joint organized crime team comprising the NSW Police Force, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).

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As part of ongoing police investigations, two men, aged 41 and 36, were arrested in Petersham and Sydney at 6pm on Wednesday.

During their search of the men and a suitcase, the officers seized more than 16 kg of ice.

Police then executed eight search and crime scene warrants at addresses in Tempe, Kingsgrove, Waterloo, St Peters and Petersham at midnight Thursday.

During the search of the Tempe property, police found a clandestine lab, $1.5 million in cash, ice, firearms and equipment consistent with the manufacture and supply of banned drugs.

A 37-year-old man was arrested at the scene and taken to Burwood Police Station.

On the Petersham property, police found over 50kg of ice contained in industrial plastic rolls, over 100 liters of GBL and dedicated encrypted communication devices.

The 36-year-old was later charged with importing a border controlled commercial quantity of drugs and supplying a prohibited drug in excess of a large commercial quantity.

The 41-year-old was charged with importing a border-controlled commercial quantity of drugs and supplying a prohibited drug greater than a large commercial quantity, two counts of using an offensive weapon to preventing lawful detention and assaulting a police officer in the line of duty.

Both men were denied bail and appeared in Parramatta court on Thursday.

They were formally denied bail to appear in Downing Center Local Court on November 15.

The 37-year-old was charged by the owner or occupier with knowingly permitting the use as a place of drug consumption, and two counts of supplying prohibited drugs in excess of the amount charged.

He was denied bail and appeared in Parramatta Bail Court on Thursday.

He has been formally denied bail to appear in Newtown Local Court on Thursday next week.

Additional search warrants have also been executed in the northern suburbs of Perth in Western Australia and Brisbane in Queensland over the past two days.

From an industrial unit in Malaga and two Innaloo serviced apartments in Perth, investigators seized an additional 7kg of ice, more than $250,000 in cash, a small amount of cocaine, as well as watches and jewelry worth around $150,000.

Two men, aged 32 and 34, were arrested at the Malaga address.

They have since been charged with one count of trafficking a commercial amount of methamphetamine and trafficking in the proceeds of crime.

They were refused bail to appear in Perth Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning.

New South Wales Detective Superintendent John Watson described the alleged crime syndicate as “well organised”.

“They were able to not only import banned drugs, but they were able to dismantle their shipment within days of arriving,” he said.

“We know they were able to move the product between states and we know the quantities we’re talking about are really devastating for NSW and indeed other states around Australia.

“What we’re dealing with here is a criminal syndicate that doesn’t really care about the harm they’re doing all over Australia and New South Wales.”

He alleged that union members were using tool boxes to move ice throughout New South Wales and across state lines.

“They were using big common toolboxes to move their drugs around and store that money,” Superintendent Watson said.

“Toolboxes hidden inside false bottoms where narcotics were secured and transported almost in plain sight.

“While the cover-ups themselves were crude, they were effective.”

Superintendent Watson said the 50kg of ice placed in industrial plastic rollers was ‘like making pasta but illegal’.

He said the five men they arrested had no connection to any other groups, but police allege they are high-ranking members of the union.

“We will allege that these people who have been arrested are in fact high profile players,” Superintendent Watson said.

“They are the directors, they are the direct importers, the top level organizers, and they are capable of moving pounds of narcotics across Australia.”

Police investigations are ongoing.