Married customs agents charged over haul of crystal meth worth £622m

Kate Ng
1.6 tonnes of crystal meth and 37kg of heroin were seized: Australian Federal Police

A newlywed couple who ran a customs importing agency have been charged in Australia’s biggest crystal meth seizure, worth £622m.

Melbourne police said there were 1.6 tonnes of crystal meth and about 37kg of heroin being smuggled into the country from Bangkok, Thailand.

The drugs, which were hidden inside stereo speakers, were found by Border Force officers during an inspection at a container examination facility.

Rachel Annette Cachia and Donovan Mark Rodrigues, both 37 and recently married to one another, and IT worker Stephen Mizzi, 38, face charges of importing illicit drugs.

Police believe the couple are involved at a “middle-to-high up” position in the drug trafficking operation.

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan said: “They [allegedly] used their positions of trust to circumvent the border control. It will be alleged that two of the three suspects charged are trusted industry insiders.

“Australia is a lucrative market for drug traffickers only due to the amount of drugs consumed by the public and the price paid for those drugs. This is a social problem that is the responsibility of everyone to address.”

The couple and Mr Mizzi were arrested on Wednesday after police carried out searches in a number of Melbourne properties, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

All three suspects appeared at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, where none of them entered pleas or applied for bail.

The maximum penalty for drug importation charges in Australia is life imprisonment. The trio will remain in custody until they appear in court again in May 2020.

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