Melbourne men charged in connection to gun part imports

Alleged members of a Melbourne-based criminal syndicate have been charged in connection to a series of alleged attempted firearm imports, as part of an investigation between the AFP and the United States Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

The investigation, codenamed Operation Chandrila, was launched after HSI passed intelligence to the AFP in June, 2023 relating to multiple suspicious consignments containing firearm parts detected in international parcels destined for Australia.

It will be alleged the onshore criminal syndicate attempted to import four consignments containing firearm parts from the US into Melbourne over a three month period.

AFP officers arrested a Tarneit man, 37, and an Altona North man, 30, with assistance from the AFP Tactical Response Team and Victoria Police, as part of the operation in Melbourne’s west on Wednesday 16 August, 2023.

Police executed search warrants at the man’s Altona North home where a number of items were allegedly located and seized, including fraudulent identification documents, a quantity of suspected methamphetamine and live 9mm rounds found inside the home and a vehicle.

AFP officers conducted a search warrant at a Truganina commercial business where about 3.4kg of Butanediol, 1.2kg of a drug precursor concealed in an electronic gaming machine, and 100g of suspected methamphetamine were allegedly located and seized.

An additional search warrant was executed at a commercial storage facility in Brooklyn, where between 20-30kg of a drug precursor, a box of .223 ammunition, a rifle magazine containing .223 ammunition, fraudulent identification documents and electronic devices were allegedly discovered and seized.

The men are expected to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court today (17 August 2023) charged with the following offences.

Altona North man, 30:

  • Attempt Import Prohibited Tier 2 Goods (firearms parts) without approval Contrary to Section 233BAB(5) Customs Act 1901 (4 counts),
  • Unlawful possession of ammunition s124 Firearms Act 1996 (Vic),
  • Possess a drug of dependence s73 Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic) (2 counts); and
  • Falsification of documents s83A(5) Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

Tarneit man, 37:

  • Traffick commercial quantity in a drug of dependence (1,4-butanediol), section 71AA, Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic),
  • Traffick in a drug of dependence (1,4-butanediol), section 71AC, Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic),
  • Possess a drug of dependence (1,4-butanediol), section 73, Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic),
  • Traffick in a drug of dependence (methylamphetamine), section 71AC, Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic),
  • Possess a precursor chemical (methylamine) section 71D, Drugs Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic); and
  • Handle stolen goods, section 88, Crimes Act 1958 (Vic).

The maximum penalty for these offences includes up to 10 years imprisonment.

AFP Detective Acting Superintendent James Cheshire said the AFP, along with its state and Commonwealth law enforcement partners had zero tolerance for the illegal importation of firearms into Australia.

“The AFP and Victoria Police together with our international law enforcement partners have prevented serious harm in our community as a result of these failed firearm part imports,” Det A/Supt. Cheshire said.

“This investigation has demonstrated the strength in the AFP’s international law enforcement partnerships and how our international network is assisting us offshore, to keep Australians safe at home,” he said.

Det A/Supt Cheshire said Operation Chandrila should serve as a significant reminder that the AFP and its law enforcement partners would not tolerate the import and use of illicit weapons in Australia.

“The importation of illegal firearms and weapons not only has the potential to endanger our community, but they could have also enabled serious criminal activity on our streets,” he said.

“Our priority is keeping Australians safe. And that’s why we will continue to be relentless in our commitment to target, identify and disrupt these criminal syndicates and bring them to justice.”

/Public Release. View in full here.