Biosecurity officers secured approximately 38 tonnes of risk material—including boxes of turtle meat and raw prawns.

Operation Avoca secures biosecurity risk materials

A significant risk to Australia’s biosecurity was prevented by biosecurity officers securing approximately 38 tonnes of risk material, including boxes of turtle meat, frog meat, plant products, avian meat, pig meat, beef meat and raw prawns.

Recently, a Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry biosecurity officer noted suspicious boxes of goods at a routine inspection in NSW.

The observations led to the department executing a warrant at a western Sydney warehouse, where biosecurity risk products were uncovered.

Following this, the Australian Federal Police assisted the department by executing multiple warrants at various locations in NSW connected to the warehouse.

A number of warrants were executed to individuals and businesses in relation to the investigation.

At the western Sydney premises, biosecurity officers examined approximately 250 tonnes of goods and determined that over 38 tonnes represented a biosecurity risk – including beef, chicken, duck, pig meat, geese, frog meat, raw prawns, plant products and soil.

Goods were removed from the site in seven 20’ shipping containers and remain under Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry control.

Departmental secretary and Australia’s director of biosecurity Andrew Metcalfe said anyone who intentionally tries to circumvent our biosecurity laws can face significant potential penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment and fines of up to $1.375 million for an individual or $6.875 million for a company.

“The secured goods could have posed an unacceptable risk of introducing disease and pest for plants and animals alike,” Mr Metcalfe said.

“We will work hard to protect our agriculture industries and natural environment from these threatening diseases.”

“The department takes its role in managing and enforcing Australia’s biosecurity laws extremely seriously and the work of our biosecurity officers throughout this operation has been outstanding.”

The investigation remains ongoing.

The department will continue to collaborate with the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force and all other relevant parties throughout the next phase of the investigation.

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