Twenty million dollars in cash and assets were seized from an alleged meth-trafficking syndicate operating across Tasmania and Victoria — but police fear they haven’t got their hands on all of the wealth, a court has been told.
Victoria Police Detective Stuart Burnham told the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Wednesday that “investigators believe we have not located all of the money used by the syndicate”.
He was arguing against bail for one of three alleged ringleaders, Eng Beng Koh, the partner of fellow alleged ringleader, Tasmania’s Xiaoyan Ning, also charged with commercial drug trafficking.
Detective Burnham told the court that Ms Ning was caught on messaging app WeChat sending edited photos of Mr Koh to her sister in China for use in fake IDs.
Her sister had purchased holographic sheets used to make fake Victorian drivers licences, he alleged.
“Investigators believe the accused is a high risk of fleeing Australia back to China or Malaysia,” he said.
“The accused’s offending involves international assistance from China as well as across most parts of Victoria.
“The accused has proven he has connections internationally and in Australia.”
Mr Koh was involved in a fruit-picking labour hire business that recruited employees into working for the meth-trafficking syndicate, Detective Burnham alleged.
Mr Koh’s bail was refused.
His partner Ms Ning was previously granted bail to care for their two toddlers.
Yining Tao, the third alleged ringleader charged with commercial drug trafficking, was also refused bail on Wednesday.
The court was told that Mr Koh was a Malaysian citizen whose Australian visa had run out, and he could be deported if released from custody and would not face trial.
Mr Tao and Mr Koh were ordered to stand trial.
The Supreme Court has previously been told in bail applications for alleged syndicate members that the ring was alleged to have manufactured and trafficked methamphetamine, commonly known as ice.
The are alleged to have laundered the profits through businesses including chicken farms and a labour hire company.
It is alleged the syndicate used vulnerable persons working on the farms to “house sit” the clandestine laboratories.
When police pounced on the alleged meth ring, 23 search warrants at properties across Victoria and Tasmania turned up scientific glassware and equipment, rotary evaporators (commonly used in the manufacture of ice), more than 25kg of ice, hydroponic equipment, cannabis, large amounts of cash, mobile phones, vehicles, and jewellery, the court was told.
Fifteen people were charged in relation to the alleged syndicate.
They will next appear in the County Court on September 6.Internet Explorer Channel Network