By Charlene Gatt
FOUR men have been charged with serious drug offences after Victoria Police dismantled one of the state’s largest drug laboratories last week.
Police from the Clandestine Laboratory Squad and members of the Special Operations Group executed five search warrants at residential premises in Maribyrnong, St Leonards, Brunswick, Ascot Vale and Hawthorn around 5.30am last Tuesday.
When police attended the Maribyrnong address along Cumberland Drive, two men barricaded themselves inside a unit for four-and-a-half hours, but were later arrested at the scene after lengthy negotiations.
Detectives also uncovered an extensive active laboratory at the St Leonards address, which was allegedly in the process of manufacturing what is believed to be amphetamines.
Detective Superintendent Doug Fryer said the raids uncovered one of the most sophisticated drug labs officers had seen in a decade.
Investigators expect it will take some time to catalogue the extent of the lab, but at this stage it’s believed to be one of the most significant drug seizures in recent years, with an estimated value of $10 to $15 million.
Investigators also seized loaded hand guns and about $60,000 in cash at the Maribyrnong address.
Police likened the haul to drug rings run by former underworld figures Carl Williams and Tony Mokbel.
Brok Seckold, 28, of Maribyrnong, Matthew Lowe, 22, of Hawthorn, Kris Kaje, 36, of Ascot Vale and Daniel Peter Martin, 25, of Brunswick, all faced an out-of-sessions hearing later that afternoon.
All four have been charged with various drug offences including trafficking large quantity of commercial drug of dependence, possessing substance equipment for purpose of trafficking in drugs of dependence, possessing amphetamines along with other drug-related charges and firearm offences.
The arrests are the culmination of a six-month investigation by detectives from the Clandestine Laboratory Squad, targeting the illicit drug trade.
Police alleged Mr Seckold and Mr Lowe, a pilot, flew 3.5kg of amphetamines from Essendon airport to a location in NSW using a Cessna as recently as a fortnight ago.
The investigation included surveillance devices set up to monitor the four properties from last July to February.
Police had previously uncovered two other alleged drug laboratories in Canterbury and Kew last year that are believed to be linked.
By Charlene Gatt