Six Sydney Airport workers have been charged following a thwarted attempt at smuggling a large amount of drugs into Australia via an international flight.
The Australian Federal Police have accused the workers of planning to import the drugs within a cargo box in the hold of a commercial aircraft on 7 March 2020, but reduced flight schedules as a result of the COVID-19 put a stop to the plan.
However, police said an alleged syndicate undertook significant planning toward this endeavour, including giving each of the six charged men an encrypted AMOM and a burner phone, and canvassing for suitable exchange locations within the airside area of Sydney Airport.
The AFP has linked the incident to an alleged criminal organisation that tried to import 38 kilograms of methamphetamine into Sydney via an Air Canada flight in March 2019, leading to the arrests of two men.
Further investigations revealed this syndicate had begun planning another importation through Sydney Airport in late 2019, leading police to charge six men who were past and present employees of a service provider at the airport last Wednesday.
The men, aged between 31 and 47, face charges ranging from directing one or more activities of a criminal organisation involved in the importation of border controlled drugs, providing material support and resources to aid a criminal organisation involved in the importation of border-controlled drugs, and associating with members of a criminal organisation involved in the importation of border controlled drugs, for the purpose of supporting this serious organised criminal activity.
A 32-year-old Liverpool man is scheduled to appear before Downing Centre District Court on 9 November 2021, and the other men are scheduled to appear on 16 November 2021.
Detective Inspector Scott Sykes said the AFP was increasingly focusing on targeting trusted insiders working in Australia’s busiest airport.
“We ask all people that utilise the airport for work or pleasure to be vigilant and if you see or hear something that is unusual or suspicious, please report it to the AFP on 131 AFP or in emergencies call 000,” Sykes said.
“These further charges show the AFP is continuing to utilise intelligence gained through Operational Ironside to target trusted insiders and other criminal enterprises within the aviation environment.
“People using their jobs at or access to Sydney Aviation Precinct to facilitate illegal activity for organised crime groups are going to be the target of increased AFP attention, and we are committed to ensuring the integrity and lawful operation of passenger and cargo operations into the future.”
Featured image source: iStock/Chalabala