The Australian Border Force and South Australia Police arrested a 31-year-old Port Neill man for importing a marketable quantity of drugs. Both law enforcement agencies, in conjunction with “partner agencies,” linked the man to a significant number of darknet purchases. After searching the man’s properties, the likelihood of the drugs being for personal use dropped to an astronomically low level. Officers arrested the suspect and charged him with 14 counts of drug trafficking. All for controlled substances.
Law enforcement treats the borders of Australia with care. Just days before police arrested the Port Neill man, the Australian Border Force caught another suspect who illegally imported a number of steroids. Clint Sims, ABF Commander of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said,
“These seizures are another example of the ABF’s ongoing commitment to stamp out the illicit importation of dangerous drugs and protecting the Australian community.”
At one point in time, Australia fell behind other countries when it came to border-related law enforcement. In July, ABC news filed a Freedom of Information request with the Australian government. They wanted information on the country’s ability to intercept drugs or explosives. In response, they received the following:
“Australia Post has an obligation to inform relevant authorities should it suspect the presence of illegal goods in mail items, but lacks the technology or equipment to detect [such goods]. Australia Post does not have, for example, sniffer dogs, X-ray machines or explosive trace detectors. Australia Post lacks legal authority to open mail. Australia Post does not seek this legal authority which, in Australia Post’s view, properly sits with law enforcement agencies.”
This surprised many readers; law enforcement in Australia arrests Australian darknet buyers and vendors as they would in any other country. Additionally, evidence came out later that indicated that, perhaps, the letter painted a picture of a former Australia Post. Some individuals provided first-hand proof that Australia, or parts of the country at the very least, used X-ray machines on a routine basis.
Not long after the letter made headlines, several noteworthy events occurred, including Operation Hyperion—a global law enforcement operation created to increase efficiency in international darknet busts. Australia made several arrests and received mentions in the press releases of many participating countries. Very few darknet buyer or vendor arrests ever occur without assistance from the Australian Border Force.
According to the news reports already available, this case followed the same path as the others. Authorities linked the man “to the importation and distribution of numerous border controlled drugs via the darknet.” After police established the connection, ABF and SAPOL officers searched properties in Adelaide and the Eyre Peninsula. The searches revealed the evidence authorities needed to make an arrest. They found “910 doses of an amphetamine type substance,” 380 LSD tabs, and both capped and loose MDMA. The loose and possibly powdered MDMA added up to 15 grams. Officers found 72 capsules but did not mention the weight.
The ABF also found what they believed to be chemicals used in the process of drug synthesis.
ABF acting Commander Craig Palmer explained that Australian law enforcement knew about the darknet and planned to continue watching for packages crossing the border. “We are well aware of these websites and take any attempts to import illegal border controlled drugs very seriously,” acting Commander Palmer said. “Working with our partner agencies, we will continue to target those people who think they can illegally purchase and import illicit goods online.”
South Australian police charged the man with 14 counts of importing and trafficking a controlled substance.