Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

CASE REPORT - Operation Shenzi - Drug trafficking

Year: 
2018-2019
Category: 
Serious Drugs
Location: 
Western Australia

 

Drug ship prosecution sees seven men jailed in Perth

Following a lengthy 10-week trial last year in the Supreme Court of Western Australia, seven men involved in trying to smuggle 182kgs (145.6kgs pure) of methamphetamine onto a remote beach in Western Australia, were collectively jailed for over 164 years in June 2018.

The drugs were worth an estimated $91 million.

Operation Shenzi was a joint Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and Western Australia Police Force investigation carried out in 2016, which culminated in the arrest of 14 people who were either crew members of the mother ship Mega Profit II or waiting onshore in Western Australia to collect and then distribute the drugs.

Around 6pm on 1 May 2016, the AFP intercepted the 30m long, wooden-hulled commercial fishing vessel in very poor condition, around 120 nautical miles off the Western Australian coast. Eight crew were on board but only forensic traces of methamphetamine were found on the vessel. 

Methamphetamine had been loaded from the mother vessel onto a high-speed tender and delivered to a remote beach landing site south of Port Denison, Western Australia, on 1 May 2016 at around 5:30am.

Six people were part of the shore party with at least four of them attending at the beach landing site to receive 15 bags of drugs. They dragged 14 along the beach to three waiting cars bound for Perth, but later the same day had to race back when they realised they had left behind a bag of drugs worth a considerable amount of money.

Between 21 and 23 May 2016, search warrants executed at safe houses in East Cannington and Embleton uncovered 182kg of high grade methamphetamine.

The allegations

The importation was a well-planned international operation involving multiple participants, with some of the coordination carried out by unknown persons in Hong Kong and Malaysia.

The high-level of planning and coordination involved is reflected in the way those aboard the vessel and those who came to Australia before it arrived, were able to put in place the resources needed to collect and distribute the drugs.

The crew and shore participants were in contact with overseas associates who must have been the conduit by which each respective group had an awareness of the role and status of the other, most notably reflected in the accurately timed handover of the drugs at the beach landing site.

The voyage involved great risk given the poor state of the vessel, the conditions encountered and the distance traversed.

The willingness of those involved to take on such a risk reflected their determination for the importation to succeed.

The quantity of drugs and the efforts taken to ensure their safe importation reflect their very high commercial value and the rewards to be made by those involved.

Offenders

Collectively, 14 offenders were arrested with one pleading guilty before the trial. The remaining 13 pleaded not guilty and proceeded to trial.

After hearing 10 weeks of evidence and deliberating for less than a day, the jury convicted seven of the 13 men over their involvement in the offending. Two of the crew members and all of the shore party charged (five males) were convicted. Six crew members were acquitted.

All seven were sentenced in the Supreme Court of Western Australia between 26 and 28 June 2018.

 

Offender

Plea

Role

Sentence

Non-parole period

1

Kai Cheong LAW (Crew)

Not Guilty

Supervisor (vessel)

26 Years

16 Years

2

Jie LUO (Crew)

Not Guilty

Captain (vessel)

23 Years

15 Years

3

Kinboon YONG (Shore)

Not Guilty

Collection, repackaging and redistribution

26 Years

17 Years

4

TeckKong WONG (Shore)

Not Guilty

Oversight of repackaging and redistribution

26 Years

17 Years

5

FookChoi CHING (Shore)

Not Guilty

Attended beach location to collect drugs from vessel

23 Years

15 Years

6

Chee Seng TANG (Shore)

Not Guilty

Attended beach location to collect drugs from vessel

23 Years

15 Years

7

Yuen Kuan CHONG (Shore)

Not Guilty

Attended beach location to collect drugs from vessel

17 Years, 3 Months

11 Years, 3 Months

8

Yoke Cheng CHIN (Shore)**

Guilty

Store person for some of the drugs

15 Years

9 Years, 8 Months

**Yoke Chen CHIN pleaded guilty on 12 January 2017 and was sentenced on 23 March 2017.