Poppy Morandin and Jimmy Singh.
A 32-year-old Artarmon man contracted to deliver mail, has been charged after he allegedly used his job to import commercial quantities of the drug ‘ice’ from overseas.
Police will allege that the man had utilised his position delivering parcels on Sydney’s Northern Beaches in order to safely receive the packages of the illicit substance, across his designated delivery areas.
Investigation into the accused’s operation began after the Australian Border Force inspected two packages in October which arrived in Sydney via air cargo from Mexico.
The packages, which were purported to be handbags, were found to have false bottoms, with each concealing a substance which was subsequently tested, returning a positive result for methylamphetamine (ice).
Crystal methamphetamine, commonly known as ‘ice’ is a highly addictive stimulant, known to have incredibly harmful side effects.
There has been a substantial increase in deaths involving methamphetamine and other stimulants in Australia, with the death rate in 2018 being 4 times higher than that in 1999.
Increases in the detected importation, manufacture, and supply of the drug have also been used as indicators to suggest that the Australian methamphetamine market has grown since 2010.
There was a total of 2.3kg of ice in the packages.
The matter was then referred to the NSW Police, who established Strike Force Pulleine to investigate the import.
During their investigation into the matter, a third package from The Netherlands addressed to a home in the Northern Beaches, was intercepted by the Australian Border Force.
This package contained a total of 1kg of ice, with the substance distributed and concealed in the soles of dozens of pairs of thongs.
This package was also seized by the strike force investigators.
Following extensive inquiries, the accused was arrested and taken to Manly Police Station, where he was charged with three counts of attempt to possess commercial quantity of unlawfully imported border-controlled drug.
Investigators also executed a search warrant at a home in Artarmon, where they seized an electronic control device, laptops, a hard drive and electronic storage devices, Bitcoin documentation, drug paraphernalia consistent with supply, and a digital money counter.
Penalties for the offence of ‘attempt’ are the same as for the completed offence, with Section 11.1 of the Criminal Code 1995(Cth) stating that a person who attempts to commit an offence is punishable as if the offence attempted had been committed.
In order for the accused to be found guilty, their conduct must be more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence.
The question whether conduct is more than merely preparatory to the commission of the offence is one of fact.
The prosecution must furthermore be able to prove that the accused intended to do, and/or had knowledge regarding the physical elements of the offence attempted.
A person may be found guilty even if committing the offence attempted is impossible or the person actually committed the offence attempted.
However, a person found guilty of attempting to commit an offence cannot be subsequently charged with the completed offence.
Pursuant to Section 307.5 of the of the Criminal Code, possessing commercial quantities of unlawfully imported border controlled drugs or plants carries a maximum penalty of life in jail, and/or a fine of $1,665,000.
Regarding methamphetamine, the threshold for a commercial quantity is 500g or more.
A list of border-controlled drugs or plants is contained within Schedule 2 of the Criminal Code Regulation 2019 (Cth), and includes drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and ketamine.
To be found ‘guilty’ of the charge of possessing a commercial quantity of unlawfully imported border-controlled drugs or plants, the prosecution must prove each of the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:
- The accused was in possession of the illicit substance;
- The substance was unlawfully imported;
- The substance is a recognised border-controlled drug;
- The accused was aware of a substantial risk that it was a border-controlled drug, yet decided to possess it anyway;
- The quantity possessed is a commercial quantity
‘Possessing’ something is when you knowingly have exclusive physical custody or control of it to the exclusion of others not acting in concert with you (Dib (1991) 52 A Crim R 64).
As a form of defence, the accused has a legal burden to prove that he/she did not know that the border-controlled drug or plant was unlawfully imported.
The prosecution will not need to prove that the accused imported it, and the charge is often used as a backup when difficulty is found in proving the accused, with the requisite knowledge, imported it.
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