Two Sydney men have been charged with the illegal trafficking of 156 kilograms of drugs from India through fabric rolls – one of whom is a freight worker for Qantas.
In a joint media release between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF), two men were allegedly involved in the 2020 seizure of 156 kilograms of the drug pseudoephedrine, under Operation Ironside.
Eric Grunett, a 51-year-old from Darling Point, is an airline freight worker working for Qantas, according to a report by The Australian, and is alleged to have been directly involved in the importation 156 kilograms of the drug from India through fabric rolls, along with 36-year old Tishan David from East Hills.
“An AFP-led investigation into the activities of an airline freight employee suspected of using his role to advise multiple criminal syndicates about law enforcement interest into incoming consignments,” the statement said.
Investigations resulted in officers executing two search warrants searches on Tuesday the 8 June 2021.
From the warrant, roughly $15,000 in cash and multiple electronic devices was obtained from David’s home, and a mobile phone was taken from Grunnet’s home.
More than 25 million messages were encrypted in the mobile phones, with authorities ultimately finding the men linked to the mafia, motorcycle gangs, Mexican and South American cartels, and Asian triads.
“Both men were arrested at their homes and charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled precursor, namely pseudoephedrine, contrary to section 307.11 of the Criminal Code (Cth),” the statement said.
A Qantas spokeswoman said the airline was not able to discuss criminal matters but “works closely with law enforcement to provide all assistance necessary”.
The arrests come just days after news broke of a classified intelligence operation into the alleged criminal activity of 150 Qantas staff, involved in the importation of drugs, according to a Sydney Morning Herald investigation.
Qantas Group chief security officer Luke Bramah told Australian Aviation last week, “We have not been advised of any current investigations of Qantas Group employees involved in organised crime. If concerns are raised regarding any of our employees, we will actively support their investigation and take appropriate action.
“To be clear, none of Australia’s law enforcement agencies have told us of the existence of a report that suggests there are potentially 150 Qantas employees who have connections to organised crime. Nor have they raised concerns with us about our vetting or background checking processes.”
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission inquiry also apparently has uncovered five airline staff with links to “national security” crimes, 60 staff linked to “serious drug offences”, 23 using their employment for other crimes, and seven linked to “child exploitation,” according to the report.
The government will likely pass the Transport Security Amendment (Serious Crime) Bill 2020 to increase additional security checks for airport staff in the coming months, after years of partisan pushback, in light of growing concerns around aviation and national security.
David appeared before Central Local Court on 16 June, while Grunnet is set to appear before the Central Local Court on 4 August.
As of yet, police have not ruled out further charges.