Following a string of recent drug importation crackdowns in Australia, the Australian Federal Police and the Mildura police arrested an international drug buyer who had ordered several packages of methamphetamine between April and July. The case itself began with the Australian Border Force—a government body that frequently receives credit for intercepting drug packages and collaborating with international partners. The Australian Border Force, or ABF, had seized four packages of methamphetamine that someone had allegedly shipped to a Mildura man. Mildura police later arrested that man and on October 30, a judge handed him a six month prison sentence.
Torin Nills Johnson, the recently convicted Victoria man, told both the court and the police different stories. After appearing at Mildura Magistrates’ Court via video link in early October, Johnson learned he faced several drug charges that he opposed. One, for instance, was the importation of border controlled substances. When questioned by police about the packages intercepted by the ABF, instead of denying that he had imported, bought, or even used drugs, Johnson said he only sourced drugs from people or vendors in Australia. No importation.
The packages intercepted by ABF proved difficult to wholly attribute to Johnson. Police prosecutor Matt Pardon told the court that between April and July 2017, ABF intercepted four packages of methamphetamine. ABF then handed the packages off to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Mildura police. The court agreed with Bert Hilton-Wood, Johnson’s attorney, that two of the four packages had been addressed to a name only similar to Johnson’s. Not Johnson’s true name.
Bert Hilton-Wood argued that “many” of the packages could not be linked to his client. For instance, he said, some arrived with the name “T Johnson” or “Ty Johnson.” Johnson rented two P.O. boxes, Pardon said. One package shipped to each P.O. box and the remaining packages went to two different houses in Melbourne. Only the P.O. boxes were in Johnson’s name.
In September, Australian police arrested Johnson. Pardon says that Johnson had an Australian Post parcel in his possession at the time of the arrest. According to statements from the officers, Johnson said the parcel contained 3.5 grams of marijuana. Officers then seized and opened the shipment. Instead of an eighth of marijuana, the authorities reportedly discovered 2.8 grams of methamphetamine.
“I thought it was going to be 3.5g of cannabis – that should be here Monday then,” Johnson said.
A search of Johnson’s house and phone revealed that he had discussed buying and selling drugs from as early as February 2017. Officials said his messages—often with people who had known drug associations—referenced drug sales and contained pictures of various drugs. Police then executed a search warrant for one of Johnson’s P.O. boxes. They found the package of 3.5 grams of marijuana that Johnson had reportedly expected to arrive.
In defense of what the court believed to be drug trafficking, Bert Hilton-Wood explained that his client only involved himself in the market to support his own drug use. Johnson had a “lengthy history” of drug use, the lawyer said.
Magistrate Gerard Lethbridge told Johnson that he had few “alternatives to imprisonment.” The judge sentenced Johnson to six months incarceration and 120 hours of community service.