Drugs in Container of Tinned Tomatoes Thwarted

A joint operation known as QJOCTF has stopped a shipment of MDMA pills hidden in a Brisbane-bound shipping container of tinned pulped tomatoes, before it could leave Holland.

An international shipment of MDMA, large enough to make seven million ecstasy tablets, has been intercepted before hitting the streets via the port of Brisbane. A 10-month investigation between Australian and Dutch authorities saw the drugs, which have an estimated street value of $140 million, intercepted near Rotterdam. Authorities found the drugs hidden in a shipping container of tinned pulped tomatoes.

Australian Federal Police, the Queensland Joint Organised Crime Taskforce, Queensland Police, Border Force and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission all worked with Dutch police in the investigation, which has been described as one of the biggest MDMA seizures in Australian history.

AFP officers embedded overseas are believed to have played a vital role in the undercover operation, which saw the drugs intercepted before they were shipped to Australia. In total authorities seized approximately 850kg of crystalline MDMA and 548 litres of MDMA Oil from locations in the Netherlands and Belgium. With an estimated street value of AUD $301.6 million, this quantity of drugs had the potential to be processed into over 15 million MDMA tablets in Australia.  

Amongst the arrested Dutch nationals were two key players, a 58-year-old man (arrested in Belgium) and 37-year-old man (arrested in the Netherlands). Father and son Paulus Johannes Berkhof, 58, and Petronella Adrianna Waltherus Adriaan Berkhof, 37, are alleged to be key members of the syndicate and have been charged in the Netherlands. They will not be extradited to Australia. The 58-year-old man will be extradited to the Netherlands. The arrested Dutch nationals have been charged by Dutch authorities and are currently awaiting trial in the Netherlands.  

The QJOCTF is a multi-agency taskforce comprised of members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Queensland Police Service (QPS), Australian Border Force (ABF), Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Australian Taxation Office (ATO), and Australian Transaction Reporting and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). The role of the QJOCTF is to investigate transnational serious and organised crime threats impacting Australia. 

As your licensed Customs Brokers and International Freight Forwarders, Alliance Intercontinental keep your shipments secure at all major ports and airports around Australia.

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