Taskforce Storm prevents 13 tonnes of drugs from hitting Australian shores

Media Release

Taskforce Storm prevents 13 tonnes of drugs from hitting Australian shores

Editor’s note: Images are available via Hightail

More than 13 tonnes of illegal drugs and precursor chemicals have been stopped from reaching Australian shores since 2016, thanks to the joint international partnership between the AFP and Thai authorities known as Taskforce Storm.

Taskforce Storm, comprising of the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), Royal Thai Police (RTP), the Department of Special Investigations (DSI), and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), stopped the illicit substances before they cause any harm the Australian community.

This includes over six tonnes of methamphetamine, over 400kg of heroin, three tonnes of marijuana, 40kg of ketamine, 30 litres of GBL (gamma-butyrolactone), and almost four tonnes of the ‘ice’ precursor ephedrine.

The 13 tonnes seized under Taskforce Storm includes more than two tonnes of crystal methamphetamine concealed in packets of green tea, allegedly located and seized from safe houses in Songkhla and Ratchaburi provinces in a targeted operation between May and June 2023.

Taskforce Storm incorporates joint investigations and intelligence exchange to combat transnational organised crime, including drug trafficking, money laundering, firearms trafficking and serious fraud.

In addition to drug trafficking, the Taskforce focuses on the seizure of illicit cash and criminal assets. To date, Taskforce Storm has restrained more than AUD$50 million worth of proceeds of crime in both Australia and Thailand.

Under the AFP’s International Command, AFP liaison officers are based on the ground in Thailand to provide operational support, intelligence and training to Thai law enforcement to help combat transnational and serious organised crime in the region.

To assist partners in combatting increasingly sophisticated criminals, the AFP has provided cybercrime investigations and digital forensics training to almost one thousand Thai law enforcement members in the last year under the Taskforce.

The AFP and Taskforce Storm partners have recently renewed the joint agency agreement, extending their commitment to further combat transnational organised crime and further strengthening the AFP’s international ties.

AFP Detective Superintendent Paul Hopkins said it was not a surprise that Joint Taskforce Storm had been extended, thanks to the success and achievements of the partnership.

“The AFP’s partnership with the Thai authorities is incredibly strong and has been more than four decades in the making,” Det/Supt. Hopkins said.

“It’s a relationship that is almost as old as the AFP itself and incredibly important in combating the evolving threat of transnational serious organised crime including the illicit drug trade,”

AFP Commander Asia, Peter Sykora said that the AFP was pleased to renew and reaffirm its commitment to Taskforce Storm for another two years.

“This resigning further cements the AFP’s joint partnership and commitment to targeting and dismantling the criminal operations of those attempting to import illicit drugs to our shores,” said Commander Sykora.

“We work closely with the Thai authorities to stop the use of Thailand as a transit country between the drug producers in nearby countries, and the drug consumers in Australia,” he said.

“To attempt to reduce the harm caused by illicit drugs, the AFP targets the drug trade at its source around the world, by working with overseas partner law enforcement agencies – such as our partners in Thailand, to whom we are incredibly thankful’.

“This year alone, Thai law enforcement with AFP assistance has prevented more than $3 billion worth of harm to the Australian community.”

ONCB’s Deputy Secretary-General Thanakorn said Taskforce Storm has been very successful due to the agencies working together so well, which has enabled many large seizures of illegal narcotics and proceeds of crime in both Australia and Thailand, and many arrests of high-level criminals.

RTP’s Assistant Commissioner General Prachuab also praised the excellent cooperation that has resulted in many successful cases taking place over many years.

“I recently visited Australia where I discussed the importance of Taskforce Storm with AFP Senior executives and thanked them for the excellent longstanding relationship between AFP and RTP,” Assistant Commissioner Prachuab said.

The AFP has officers stationed in 33 countries across the world as part of its International Command, working alongside law enforcement agencies on the ground and sharing intelligence to protect Australians at home.

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