A Queensland-based crime network responsible for distributing precursor chemicals used in the production of methylamphetamine in New South Wales has been dismantled by a joint CCC and New South Wales Police Force investigation, Operation Lithium. The operation was established in July 2013.
The key focus of Operation Lithium were the illegal drug activities of longstanding organised crime figure Robert Wing Fong Chan. His activities had come to the CCC’s attention during Operation Lightning, when evidence was obtained that he had procured another target to produce methylamphetamine and had supplied precursor chemicals and glassware for the purpose, in exchange for 50% of the product.
Operation Lithium was established immediately upon the closure of Operation Lightning. As a result of evidence obtained in this investigation, it was alleged that Chan was the primary organiser for the movement between New South Wales and Queensland of 9 kilograms of a precursor chemical called ContacNT at a wholesale price of $35,000 per kilogram.
ContacNT is a medication manufactured in China containing pseudoephedrine and can be used as a precursor chemical in the manufacture of methylamphetamine. This was the first occasion on which ContacNT had been seized by a law enforcement agency in Queensland.
The 10-month joint Operation Lithium, resulted in the seizure of the 9 kilograms of precursor chemicals, which have the potential to produce methylamphetamine with an estimated street value of approximately $1.3 million.
In March 2016, Chan, aged 74, pleaded guilty to 15 indictments and was sentenced in the Supreme Court of Queensland to 10 years’ imprisonment for his involvement in producing and trafficking methylamphetamine and supplying the precursor chemical, pseudoephedrine. His trafficking charge was declared to be a “serious violent offence”, meaning that Chan must serve at least 80% of his sentence in custody.
The target’s wife and an alleged courier were both sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in New South Wales for their involvement in supplying commercial quantities of ContacNT.