Police thwarted an attempt to smuggle 30 kg of methamphetamine hidden in 3D printers

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has arrested two high-ranking members of an international crime syndicate in connection with a plot to smuggle 30kg of methamphetamine hidden in 3D printers. Two men, aged 33 and 36, planned to smuggle drugs from Taiwan inside Flashforge Creator 3 3D printers. The arrest was made thanks to the cooperation of the AFP and FBI, which has been investigating the criminal group since 2018 – law enforcement seized drugs in the US before they reached Australia , and the Taiwan Bureau of Investigation arrested a 33-year-old man who was responsible for smuggling drugs in 3D printers in New Taipei in late July this year.

Operation Ironside was jointly conducted by the AFP and the FBI, where the agents managed to intercept messages sent via the An0m encrypted communication platform used by the criminals. AFP Deputy Commissioner Pryce Scanlan said one of the men had come to AFP’s attention after communications intercepted on An0m indicated that he had coordinated more than 30 imports of methamphetamine into Australia in 2020.

AFP, working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), then uncovered an alleged plot to import 30kg of methamphetamine into Western Australia hidden in 3D printers. First, in Taiwan, a 33-year-old man was arrested in New Taipei, and a few months later, Taiwanese police arrested his alleged right-hand man, a 36-year-old man, in the city of Taoyuan. The men were charged with illegally transporting category 2 drugs and face life imprisonment.

Scanlan said AFP is still investigating potential alleged syndicate ties to the thwarted Washington importation, with the investigation involving multiple countries, including Australia. AFP estimates that 30 kg of methamphetamine would sell for around $45 million based on market prices.


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