Pubdate: Thu, 06 Dec 2001
Source: Australian Associated Press (Australia Wire)
Copyright: 2001 Australian Associated Press


Eight people had been arrested following the seizure of 124 kg of ecstasy, 
worth more than $20 million, Justice Minister Chris Ellison said today.

He said customs officers found 410,000 ecstasy tablets in a container from 
a ship that had entered Brisbane from Singapore via Belgium on November 20.

Senator Ellison said the eight people arrested included a Sydney solicitor 
and a foreign national alleged to have masterminded the shipment.

It was the country's third largest ecstasy seizure and resulted from a 
lengthy investigation by the National Crime Authority (NCA), he said.

"Since October 2000, the NCA has been conducting this proactive 
investigation Operation Djura under its Blade Reference, which investigates 
South East Asian organised Crime," Senator Ellison said.

"The result has been this significant seizure of 410,000 hits of ecstasy 
with an estimated street value in excess of $20 million and the arrest of 
eight people including the group's alleged overseas link."

All have been charged with drug importation offences.

The seven men and one woman are expected to face courts in Sydney and 
Brisbane today.

In Perth, Senator Ellison said the seizure showed law enforcers across the 
country were doing an excellent job fighting the importation of illicit drugs.

He said it sent a very clear message to anyone who wanted to import drugs 
into Australia that no matter how sophisticated the attempt, they would be 

"And if they are caught, they will face serious charges which attract 
penalties of up to a maximum of life imprisonment," he said.

Senator Ellison said drug traffickers would use any means available to them 
to smuggle their illicit cargos from remote shorelines to busy ports.

"And that's why the commonwealth government announced its proposal to put 
X-ray facilities in our main ports of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth 
and Adelaide in relation to containers," he said.
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