An investigation conducted by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) has resulted in a Spanish woman being charged with attempting to smuggle cocaine and methamphetamine worth an estimated £22 million ($29.4 million) into the UK from Mexico.
The agency, the UK’s equivalent to the FBI, alleges that 32-year-old Olivia Anton-Altamirano had arranged for 250kgs of cocaine and 9kgs of methamphetamine to be shipped into Britain concealed inside a specially-made industrial fruit-processing machine.
Anton-Altamirano was arrested at her home in London last week, and was later charged with attempting to smuggle class A drugs into the UK, the NCA said in a statement.
Border Force officers discovered the haul after identifying the fruit processing machine in which the drugs were hidden as suspicious when it arrived at London Gateway Port on 17 March.
Customs officials are said to have taken several hours breaking into the part of the machine that contained the cocaine and methamphetamine.
Once they had done so, a controlled delivery of the empty machine was made to a storage facility in north London at the beginning of May.
Commenting on the success of the operation, Mark Kennedy, Border Force Deputy Director, said: “Border Force officers play a crucial role in securing our borders against drug smuggling. In this case, their professionalism has meant that dangerous class A drugs have been seized and will no longer end up in our communities where they can do so much harm.
“We continue to work with our colleagues from the National Crime Agency to do all we can to stamp out this despicable trade and bring those responsible to justice.”
Separately, UK Security Minister Ben Wallace yesterday said Britain is fast becoming the cocaine capital of Europe, a fact that is fuelling rising levels of drug-related violence across the country.
Addressing Parliament, Wallace told MPs that use of cocaine had rocketed in Britain over the past decade, thanks in part to technology making it much easier for dealers to source and sell the drug.
“In the old days, if you wanted to import huge amounts of cocaine to this country, somebody had to go to Colombia, somebody had to meet people,” he said.
“In the space of about eight years, you don’t have to do that. You can sit at home, you can deal your drugs, you can order your drugs, you can launder almost instantaneously, through Bitcoin and everything else, your money.”
Elsewhere, a senior UK police officer has said middle-class drug users are partly responsible for rising levels of drug-related violence on Britain’s streets.
Simon Kempton, Police Federation lead on drugs policy, said: “The only reason gangs are into drugs is because people want to buy them, and a big part of that is not street-level users.”
Organised crime police in Australia seize 1.5 tonnes of smuggled tobacco worth A$1.5 million
Police in Australia discovered a 1.5-tonne consignment of illicit tobacco estimated to be worth A$1.5 million ($1.01 million) in Sydney’s south west earlier this week, according to a statement from New South Wales Police.
Officers from the force’s Strike Force Raptor, which is dedicated to targeting organised criminal activity connected with the country’s motorcycle gangs, found the huge haul after conducting a raid on an industrial unit in the Fairfield district of the city on Tuesday.
Detectives searching the premises after executing a warrant came across 73 boxes that were found to contain loose tobacco weighing almost 1.5 tonnes.
Police said the tobacco was impounded and taken away for further analysis, adding that no arrests had been made in connection with the shipment.
In May of last year, authorities in Australia launched a crackdown on the sale of illicit tobacco that the country’s government said it hoped would raise some A$3.6 billion over a four-year period.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said at the time that the initiative would see the government take action to prevent the sale of the 864 tonnes of illicit tobacco that was estimated to make it past the country’s customs agencies every year.
Kelly O’Dwyer, who was the nation’s Minister for Revenue and Financial Services at the time, said: “These measures will shut down the avenues that organised crime syndicates have to access illicit tobacco to fund criminal activity.”
Just months later, officers from Australian Border Force announced that they had arrested a man in connection with the discovery of a record haul of 9.5 million smuggled cigarettes, which were found concealed inside a container in a port city of Fremantle in Western Australia.
The illicit cigarettes, which were thought to have been made in Southeast Asia, would have cost the Australian treasury A$7.66 million in evaded duty had they made it onto the country’s black market.
Earlier this month, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) released a report that revealed law enforcement agencies across the country confiscated 30.6 tonnes of illicit drugs last year, noting that methamphetamine remained one of the most consumed and seized illicit drugs in the nation.
Michael Phelan, ACIC CEO, commented: “The estimated street value of the weight of amphetamines, MDMA, cocaine and heroin seized nationally in 2017–18 is nearly $5 billion, underlining the size of the black economy that relates to illicit drugs alone.”
The seventh National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Programme report, which was released in June by the ACIC, found that Australians are now using twice as much methamphetamine as any other illegal drug.
Two men jailed over conspiracy to smuggle pig semen hidden in shampoo bottles into Australia
A court in Australia has jailed two men for illegally importing pig semen from Denmark in shampoo bottles.
Torben Soerensen, Director of pig farm GD Pork, and the company’s Breeding Manager Henning Laue were jailed for a minimum of 18 months and eight months respectively at Perth District Court yesterday over their involvement in the importation of a biosecurity hazard.
GD Pork, which is now in liquidation, was handed a fine of A$500,000 ($338,284).
Prosecutors told the court that the pair had illegally imported the pig semen from the Scandinavian country on numerous occasions between 2009 and 2017 for use in GD Pork’s artificial breeding programme.
Investigators discovered that several of the firm’s breeding sows were direct offspring of Danish boars.
The court was told the ringleaders of the plot were investors in GD Pork’s Danish parent company, who Judge Troy Sweeney said would have faced far stiffer penalties than Soerensen and Henning had they not been beyond the reach of Australian law.
Soerensen, Henning and their co-conspirators plotted to import the semen into Australia on account of the fact that Danish pigs typically produce seven more piglets per year than the indigenous species.
The Australian government upholds strict biosecurity rules, which dictate that the country’s pig stocks must be “closed genetic herds” in order to prevent the spread of disease.
The rules are intended to prevent the importation of so-called “pig plague” into the country, which originated in the US before spreading across Western Europe and can cause infertility, stillborn piglets and pneumonia.
Australian Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie said the Australian Government takes any breach of biosecurity legislation seriously, adding: “This case shows a disturbing disregard for the laws that protect the livelihoods of Australia’s 2,700 pork producers, and the quality of the pork that millions of Australians enjoy each year.
“The penalties handed down at the District Court of Western Australia today send a clear message that breaches of Australia’s biosecurity rules will not be tolerated…
“GD Pork imported the semen illegally in an attempt to get an unfair advantage over its competitors, through new genetics.
“These actions could have also exposed Australia’s agricultural industries, environment and the community to serious biosecurity risk.”
A spokesperson from the Western Australian Farmers Federation said the semen smuggling plot was “extremely disappointing” and “a selfish act” that could have seriously damaged the Australian pig farming industry.
British police warn social media users not to mock drug dealer’s receding hairline
Police in the UK have warned social media users not to make fun of the receding hairline of a wanted drug dealer whose mugshot they posted online.
Gwent Police last week used Facebook to ask members of the public to help locate drug dealer Jermaine Taylor, who was being recalled to jail after breaching the conditions of his release licence.
Alongside its appeal, the force posted an image of Taylor sporting a thinning head of hair styled in a peculiar fashion, which readers of Gwent Police’s Facebook profile proceeded to mock incessantly.
Before being taken down, the post appealing for information that might lead to the apprehension of the 21-year-old had attracted more than 10,000 Facebook “likes”, tens of thousands of comments and over 14,000 shares.
“Push his release date back further than his hairline, that should teach him,” one user wrote.
Another quipped: “What is it with prisoners released on licence, hair today gone tomorrow…”
The popularity of the post and mean nature of some of the comments posted beneath it prompted Gwent Police to issue a statement warning social media users they could face prosecution if they are nasty to people online.
“We’re really grateful to everyone who is assisting us in locating Jermaine Taylor, and we must admit a few of these comments have made us laugh,” the force said.
“However, when the line is crossed from being funny to abusive, we do have to make sure we are responsible and remind people to be careful about what they write on social media.
“If you say something about someone which is grossly offensive or is of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, then you could be investigated by the police.”
The statement attracted further light-hearted comments, with one Facebook user posting: “Can’t work out what’s thinner. This guy’s hair or Gwent Police’s skin?”
Numerous UK police forces have faced criticism over recent years for targeting internet trolls at a time when violent crime is rocketing across Britain.
In September last year, Chairman of the UK Police Federation John Apter told the Daily Telegraph that detectives in Britain are so busy dealing with trivial matters on the internet that they are unable to tackle real crime.
He spoke out just weeks after South Yorkshire Police encouraged people to report “non-crime hate incidents”, which it said “can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing”.
- Organised crime police in Australia seize 1.5 tonnes of smuggled tobacco worth A$1.5 million
- Labelling the UK government’s fried chicken box campaign as ‘racist’ does nothing to steer young people away from knife crime
- Two men jailed over conspiracy to smuggle pig semen hidden in shampoo bottles into Australia
- British police warn social media users not to mock drug dealer’s receding hairline
- Delta Air Lines donates 100 flights and additional $1.5 million to US human trafficking charity Polaris
9 February 2018
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