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Authorities foiled a plot by two men alleged to be senior members of an international crime syndicate to smuggle methamphetamine into western Australia hidden inside 3D printers.

Two men, ages 36 and 33, were arrested in July and October in Taiwan after one of them came to the attention of the Australian Federal Police during Operation Ironside, an Australian law enforcement mission that intercepted communications on a platform used by criminal organizations. 

“Intelligence indicates he and his syndicate were attempting to import quantities of up to 100 kilograms at a time,” AFP Assistant Commissioner Pryce Scanlan said in a Saturday statement. “We suspect they were operating long before we started monitoring them and were involved in multiple other drug trafficking plots targeting Australia.”

Operation Greenhill was launched to identify the criminal network and authorities said a plot was hatched to smuggle around 66 pounds of meth using 3D printers, police said. 

The AFP worked with other domestic agencies and the US Department of Homeland Security to intercept the drugs in the United States before they reached Australia. Australian authorities helped identify the 33-year-old suspect and alerted the Taiwan Criminal Investigation to find him in New Taipei City. 

methamphetamine
Two men alleged to be senior members of an international crime network planned to smuggle methamphetamine.
NurPhoto via Getty Images
crystal methamphetamine
The plot was to smuggle around 66 pounds of meth using 3D printers.

methamphetamine
The organized crime group has caused a lot of harm to the Australian community.


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methamphetamine
Authorities assume the pair were operating long before they started monitoring them.


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Further investigation led to the arrest of the 36-year-old man in October in Taoyuan City. Both men face life in prison. 

The AFP estimates that the methamphetamines would have sold for about $45 million based on West Australian prices.

Scanlan said the AFP was still investigating potential alleged links to the syndicate over foiled imports into Western Australia and investigators were looking at multiple countries.

“This organized crime group has caused significant harm to the Australian community for a number of years, as well as causing harm offshore,” he said.

“We allege this operation has taken out two senior members of a TSOC [transnational serious and organized crime] syndicate and disrupted their gateway to import illicit commodities into Australia, which is a significant win for the community,” he added.

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