Operation CROZET Nets Two International Drug Traffickers
In February 2017, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) launched an investigation into international drug traffickers in Melbourne. Among other drugs shipped to the dealers, the ABF had pulled 15.8 kilograms of MDMA and 2.6 kilograms of cocaine from the mail stream. They called the joint action “Operation CROZET.” In late October, the investigation came to a peak when Australian law enforcement arrested two dealers in connection with international drug distribution.
In the Melbourne suburbs of Merna and Kew, Australian police conducted three raids at locations specified in as many search warrants. The search teams found a massive drug stash in at least one of the properties. At another property, officers found cash and seized a Lamborghini Gallardo. The money and car were results of the suspected drug crime, the AFP announced.
The execution of the search warrants resulted in the discovery of 1 kilogram of methamphetamine; 1 kilogram of ketamine; 10 vials of testosterone; 700 grams of cocaine; 1 kilogram of marijuana; 10 kilograms of MDMA; and 16 liters of 1,4 butanediol (BD). The AFP arrested a 27-year-old man from Merna and a 26-year-old man from Kew. Both men caught charges connected to drug importation, drug trafficking, and possession of border controlled drugs. The AFP announced the men also received charges relating to the handling of the proceeds of drug trafficking, but left out specifics.
AFP Commander Justine Gough reiterated warnings issued by the AFP and ABF after several recent drug seizures: that Australian law enforcement will continue to catch drug importers, regardless of the scale of the importation. ABF Regional Commander James Watson gave similar statements to the press. He explained that ABF officers both send and receive intelligence from law enforcement partners. Operation CROZET provided proof that the “‘targeting methods” worked, he said. According to his statement, the ABF intercepts packages of drugs at the border on a daily basis.
Less than one month prior to the arrests of the suspected drug dealers, a joint investigation between the ABF, AFP, and Thai authorities led to the interception of 4 tons of ephedrine. The AFP arrested a 22-year-old Chinese-Australian dual national and a 22-year-old Australian man in connection with the importation. According to the government’s math, the shipment could have been used to create $3.5 billion of methamphetamine.
Following a related seizure of 350 kilograms of methamphetamine, AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin explained that these border interceptions depend on international intelligence. “This is not a problem we can combat alone, and is why we rely on the strengths of our partnerships,” he said. The subsequent investigation on the ground in Australia led to the capture of a 31-year-old Glenmore Park man.
The two Operation CROZET suspects appeared in court on October 27.