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Syndicate imported 25kg of ecstasy hidden in children’s toys

Image of ecstasy pills

AUSTRAC information initiated a multi-agency investigation into a syndicate responsible for importing more than AUD1.5 million of ecstasy concealed in children’s toys.

AUSTRAC referred multiple suspect transaction reports (SUSTRs) to law enforcement, detailing apparent structuring of cash deposits by syndicate members into their bank accounts. Bank staff observed the members of the syndicate undertaking a number of suspicious activities. The suspects:

  • arrived at bank branches together
  • went to separate bank tellers to conduct structured deposits
  • left the bank branches together
  • then entered another bank nearby, indicating that the suspects were undertaking structuring activities at multiple banks.

In just four months these accounts received 113 deposits of AUD9,000 each, totalling more than AUD1 million.

Two syndicate members travelled to the United Kingdom to organise the purchase of more than 25 kilograms of ecstasy. In the five months leading up to the importation, the syndicate used multiple banks to send 19 international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs), worth more than AUD250,000, to multiple beneficiaries in the United Kingdom. The syndicate also conducted one funds transfer to Germany worth AUD290,000. Authorities suspected these funds were used to purchase the drugs from overseas suppliers.

Once the drugs were purchased overseas, the syndicate concealed them in children’s toys and mailed them to the home address of a syndicate member in Australia. When the shipment of drugs arrived in Australia, authorities replaced the drugs and allowed the packages to be delivered as arranged as part of a controlled delivery.

When the shipment was delivered, law enforcement arrested and charged the suspects with importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs, dealing with proceeds of crime and structuring transactions to avoid reporting requirements. Law enforcement restrained AUD750,000 held in bank accounts operated by the syndicate and AUD100,000 cash found in a safety deposit box.

The syndicate members were sentenced to periods of imprisonment ranging from nine to 14 years.

Offence

  • Drug importation
  • Money laundering
  • Structuring

Customer

  • Individual

Industry

  • Banking (ADIs)

Channel

  • Electronic
  • Physical

Report type

  • IFTI
  • SUSTR

Jurisdiction

  • Domestic
  • International – Germany, United Kingdom

Designated service

  • Account and deposit-taking services

Indicators

  • High-value international funds transfers from Australia with no apparent logical reason
  • Multiple customers attend the same bank branch as a group and conducting simultaneous structured cash deposits
  • Multiple high-value international funds transfers within a short time frame
  • Structuring cash deposits to avoid threshold reporting requirements
  • Sudden increase in transactional activity inconsistent with customer’s established profile and/or transaction history
Last modified: 30/07/2015 15:36