Australian Police Arrest Two for Smuggling $2.2M Worth of Ketamine

australian federal police drugs
Courtesy AFP

Published Jul 2, 2023 9:40 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Australian Federal Police have arrested two men who allegedly helped a crime syndicate import 84 kilos of ketamine concealed in a bulker's cargo. 

In May, the AFP received a tip from another law enforcement agency about a plan to ship drugs to an Australian port inside new commercial vans. AFP inspectors identified a ship that was due to arrive in Melbourne on May 15, and they met the vessel to examine its cargo. 

The ship's manifest included two new vans, and when the agents examined the two vehicles, they found 79 plastic bags stashed inside. These bags allegedly contained a total of 84 kilos of the sedative ketamine, with an estimated wholesale value of about US$2.2 million. 

The police replaced the bags with identical packets containing a harmless substance. The vessel then departed Melbourne and headed on to its next destination in New South Wales. The vans and other vehicles were offloaded and then taken to a car dealership in Sydney. 

The police set up watch around the dealership. They were monitoring when two men came and stole one of the vans containing the fake "drugs" that had been removed and replaced. The suspects took the packages out of the stolen van, put them into another vehicle, and abandoned the van. 

The police followed the two suspects to Smithfield, a nearby suburb. They then arrested the men and searched two vehicles. 

The two suspects have been charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of ketamine, a border-controlled drug. The maximum possible sentence is life in prison. 

“Ketamine is a dangerous sedative known to be used illicitly as a 'date rape' drug. Its dissociative effects block sensory brain signals and can cause memory loss, feelings of being detached from one's body and the inability to perceive dangers," AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Kate Ferry said. “This operation shows transnational organized crime groups will send any substance they think they can make money from, they do not care about the harm they cause."