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Australian investigation leads to biggest ever U.S. meth seizure

Australian and U.S. authorities have seized more than 1.7 tonnes of methylamphetamine (ice)

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Australian investigation leads to biggest ever U.S. meth seizure
Australian investigation leads to biggest ever U.S. meth seizure. Image: Australian Border Force/ Audio equipment containing methylamphetamine

Australian and U.S. authorities have seized more than 1.7 tonnes of methylamphetamine (ice) – equal to more than 17 million drug deals and an estimated street value of $1.29 billion – the largest ever shipment bound for Australia and the largest ever domestic seizure in the U.S.

Officers from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria Police yesterday arrested six people in Victoria and NSW allegedly involved with the U.S.-based organised crime syndicate being investigated behind the record-making shipment.

The investigation was commenced as a result of intelligence gathered by the Victorian Joint Organised Crime Taskforce (JOCTF) about a planned large-scale drug importation by a suspected syndicate operating out of California.

The Victorian JOCTF comprises the AFP, Victoria Police, the Australian Border Force (ABF), the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and the Department of Home Affairs. The Victorian JOCTF enlisted the support of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations Border Enforcement Security Task Force (HSI BEST)*, which located a consignment suspected of containing illicit drugs before it left American shores.

As a result, the HSI BEST and U.S. Customs and Border Protection detected more than 1.7 tonnes of various illicit drugs – largely methylamphetamine – inside two large containers purporting to contain audio equipment.

The drugs were seized in California by U.S. authorities on 9 January 2019 before they could reach Australian shores.

The shipment included the following drugs, with their respective estimated street values based on their value if they had reached Australia:

• 1,728 kilograms of methylamphetamine, estimated to be worth more than AUD $1.29 billion and equal to more than 17 million drug deals.

• 25 kilograms of cocaine, worth an estimated AUD $9.5 million.

• 5 kilograms of heroin, worth an estimated AUD $2.6 million.

The previous record seizure of methylamphetamine bound for Australia was 1.3 tonnes, seized in Western Australia by the WA Joint Organised Crime Task Force in December 2017.

As a result of extensive investigations to identify the alleged syndicate connections in Australia, the JOCTF executed 10 search warrants on 7-8 February 2019 in the Melbourne suburbs of Woodstock, Pakenham, Derrimut, Campbellfield, Keilor Downs and Epping, resulting in the arrest of two U.S. nationals and two Australian nationals.

These include a 52-year-old American man and 46-year-old American woman based in Woodstock, and a 31-year-old man and 29-year-old female based in Keilor Downs. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of proceeds of crime was located during the search warrant in Woodstock, and about 6.5kg of methylamphetamine was found at a property in Keilor Downs.

Three of those arrested are scheduled to appear at the Melbourne Magistrates Court today, to face the following charge:

• Attempt to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, contrary to section 307.1, by virtue of section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

One of those arrested will also face a charge of:

• Possession of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully imported contrary to section s307.8 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The maximum penalty for these offences is life imprisonment.

Three search warrants were also executed yesterday in the Sydney suburbs of Bonyyrigg Heights, Mount Pritchard and Hinchinbrook, resulting in the arrest of two Australian nationals and seizure of about 2kg of cocaine in Hinchinbrook. Those arrested include a 25-year-old Bonnyrigg Heights man and a 31-year-old Hinchinbrook man who were charged with the following:

• Attempt to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, contrary to section 307.1, by virtue of section 11.1 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

One of those arrested will also face a charge of:

• Possession of a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs reasonably suspected of having been unlawfully imported contrary to section s307.8 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

Authorities will seek to have the men extradited to Victoria to face court in the coming days.

In Canada, with assistance from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Federal Serious and Organised Crime Unit (FSOC), five additional search warrants were executed in Burnaby, British Columbia on 7 February. These search warrants resulted in the seizure of a significant quantity of suspected proceeds of crime.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Organised Crime Bruce Hill said the JOCTF investigation demonstrated the effectiveness of Australian and international authorities working together to stamp out illicit drug importations.

“This is the biggest ever seizure of methylamphetamine – more than 1.7 tonnes – stopped before it had a chance to reach Australian streets. By stopping this, we have ensured criminals will not profit from the immense pain these drugs would have caused our community,” AC Hill said.

“I wish to thank our U.S. counterparts for their expert involvement in this investigation and strong support of our efforts to keep these drugs off Australian shores.”

U.S. Acting Ambassador James Carouso expressed his appreciation for the outstanding efforts of the Australian and U.S. agencies and officers involved: “This historic seizure highlights just how important the U.S.-Australian partnership is in protecting Americans and Australians alike. Every day, U.S. and Australian law enforcement officers work together to keep us all safe. My sincere thanks to these dedicated professionals.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations Acting Attaché Phillip Chaves said that this investigation perfectly highlights how foreign and domestic law enforcement partnerships can successfully combat transnational criminal organisations.

Victoria Police Crime Command Assistant Commissioner Tess Walsh said the large-scale drug importation would have had profound impacts on the Victorian community and beyond.

“Victoria Police has zero tolerance for those bringing harm to our community by importing and trafficking drugs of any type – with this seizure we have stopped more than 17 million drug deals from reaching our streets,” AC Walsh said.

ABF Assistant Commissioner, Sharon Huey said the large-scale of this attempted import shows that criminal syndicates continue to brazenly target Australia as a market for this dangerous drug.

”Working together with our law enforcement colleagues at a state, national and international level, we are able to disrupt the illicit drug trade before it reaches the Australian community.”

ACIC State Manager Victoria Operations Jason Halls said the drugs, particularly the 1.7 tonnes of methamphetamine, would have had an immeasurable impact on the community.

“According to our National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program data, Victoria is estimated to consume just over 2 tonnes of methylamphetamine each year. Removing 1.7 tonnes of methylamphetamine before it reaches our streets will have a huge effect on the illicit drug market,” Mr Halls said.

Chief Superintendent Keith Finn, Officer in Charge of FSOC in British Columbia, stated: “The RCMP is committed to working with our international partners in any and all investigations focussed on identifying and disrupting transnational organised crime. A seizure such as this not only helps protect the country to which the shipment was destined but has a positive impact on the international market as a whole.”

*The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – HSI BEST (HSI BEST) includes the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Los Angeles Field Office, U.S. Coast Guard, Los Angeles Police Department, Long Beach Police Department, Los Angeles Port Police, Los Angeles Sherriff’s Department and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

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Freight Forwarding

BDP International enters US customs brokerage portfolio

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BDP International enters US customs brokerage portfolio. Image: Pixabay
BDP International enters US customs brokerage portfolio. Image: Pixabay
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BDP International, a leading privately owned global logistics and transportation solutions company has announced the acquisition of DJS International, a Dallas-based customs brokerage and freight forwarding company.

DJS provides customized logistics solutions to a diverse group of more than 800 long-tenured customers across all modes of transportation. As a proven leader in international trade, transportation and customs brokerage services, DJS will readily complement BDP’s diverse portfolio of logistics and global trade management solutions, with trade compliance and inbound logistics as key focus areas.

“The similarities between our two companies are astounding; both built from humble beginnings, family-owned and operated, strong customer relationships, and both expanding in prominence as major global players in the industry,” noted BDP Chairman & CEO, Rich Bolte. “Trade compliance continues to be filled with new complexities and challenges; it’s a major focus area for our customers and therefore it was a natural fit to extend our reach in this area of expertise. We’ve always had a significant presence in the US Gulf region but with DJS we can provide a wider array of specialized and customized solutions for our customers in this new normal world.”

DJS will operate as a subsidiary of BDP, guaranteeing access to BDP’s entire global network and portfolio of services. BDP and its partners will reap the benefits of DJS’s proven position as a leader in trade management. With this new partnership, BDP International and DJS customers can expect a unique service experience backed by a combined century of industry know-how, expertise, and experience.

“Our team at DJS is a family, and we pride ourselves on the notion of delivering service excellence to our customers – we adapt and fit to their ever-changing needs in this complex world,” noted David Meyer, DJS president and chief operating officer. “We wanted to partner with a company who had similar corporate values rooted in delivering service excellence and look forward to working with our 5000 new BDP family members while leveraging BDP’s technology, visibility, and global presence to continue helping our customers streamline and simplify their supply chains.”

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Parcel

NZ Post plans to invest close to $170 million on infrastructure – starting with a new Wellington ‘super’ depot for parcels

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NZ Post plans to invest close to $170 million on infrastructure - starting with a new Wellington ‘super’ depot for parcels. Image: Flickr/ 70_musclecar_RT+6
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The investment programme begins with construction of a new ‘super depot’ for parcels, in Grenada, Wellington. The programme also includes a new processing centre in Wiri, Auckland, due to open in 2023, and an upgrade to the Southern Operations Centre in Christchurch in 2022.

The Wellington super depot is due to open in 2022. NZ Post plans to invest around $18 million in the latest global technology that will sort and scan parcels at a much faster rate than what we have now.

“We know that customers really want complete visibility of where their parcel is at all times of its journey – and this technology will improve our ability to do this,” says NZ Post Chief Executive, David Walsh. “We’re making this multi million dollar investment to support New Zealand businesses – both growing new businesses as well as major ecommerce giants.

“NZ Post is forecasting significant growth in the amount New Zealanders will buy online in the next decade – this was before the explosion in online shopping during the COVID-19 period. Last year online shopping in New Zealand grew 13% with almost 50% of adult New Zealanders now shopping online, and we are expecting this growth to continue. We’re pleased to be able to invest confidently in our future, to meet the growth in online shopping.

“The depot will have a 10440 square metre processing floor – about the size of a rugby field – with plenty of room for processing New Zealanders’ parcels.

“We are proud to be contributing to the Wellington regional economy over the next two years, with the projects main contractors, Aspec Construction Wellington LTD, expecting to employ around 350 people through 60 sub-contractors on this project,” says Ash Pama, the property owners’ representative.

During the COVID lockdown period, NZ Post received over 3.5 million parcels in the first two weeks of Alert Level 3. It had been planning for this quantity of parcels in 2023.

Supporting our commitment to be carbon neutral from 2030, the Wellington super depot will incorporate a range of environmentally sustainable design features and has also been designed to accommodate a large solar power installation once battery technology makes this a viable option for our operation.

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Port of Long Beach sees cargo increase

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Port of Long Beach sees cargo increase. Port of Long Beach
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Cargo shipments rose at the Port of Long Beach in May as the economic effects of COVID-19 started to subside.

Dockworkers and terminal operators moved 628,205 twenty-foot equivalent units of container cargo last month, a 9.5% increase from May 2019. Imports grew 7.6% to 312,590 TEUs, while exports climbed 11.6% to 134,556 TEUs. Empty containers headed back overseas jumped 11.4% to 181,060 TEUs.

The Port has moved 2,830,855 TEUs during the first five months of 2020, 5.9% down from the same period in 2019.

“Our strong numbers reflect the efforts of our Business Recovery Task Force, which is setting the path for efficient cargo movement and growth,” said Mario Cordero, Executive Director of the Port of Long Beach. “Our focus on operational excellence and world-class customer service will continue as we prioritize our industry-leading infrastructure development projects.”

“We aren’t out of the woods, but this is the gradual growth we have anticipated as the United States starts to rebound from the devastating economic impacts of COVID-19 and the trade war with China,” said Long Beach Harbor Commission President Bonnie Lowenthal.

As part of its recovery efforts, the Port of Long Beach has activated an internal Business Recovery Task Force that works with customers, industry partners, labor and government agencies to ensure terminal and supply chain operations continue without disruption, along with expediting shipments of crucial personal protective equipment.

May marked the first month in 2020 that cargo shipments rose at the nation’s second-busiest port, and followed seven consecutive months of declines attributed to the U.S.-China trade dispute and the COVID-19 epidemic.

Manufacturing in China continues to rebound from the effects of COVID-19, while demand for furniture, digital products and home improvement goods is increasing in the United States.

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