Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Additional Information - File 5 - PM Interview


Tuesday 3 June 2008
Crime fighter charged with drug conspiracy offences

MARK COLVIN: One of Australia's most senior drug investigators is behind bars tonight, charged with the type of serious offences he usually policed himself.

Prosecutors charged the assistant director of investigations with the New South Wales Crime Commission, Mark Standen, with being part of a international drug conspiracy to import and manufacture millions of dollars worth of the drug ice.

It is alleged that he used his position at the crime fighting agency to commit the offences.

The Australian Federal Police allege that Standen wasn't acting alone, they've charged another Sydney man, Bakhos Jalalaty, charged with the same offences, and 13 other people have been arrested overseas.

Karen Barlow reports.

KAREN BARLOW: Fifty-one-year-old Mark William Standen is one of Australia's top investigators.

His boss is a commissioner of the New South Wales Crime Commission, Phillip Bradley.

PHILLIP BRADLEY: Mr Standen has a long career in law enforcement and a successful career. He is a very capable investigator and he has risen on the back of his performance.

KAREN BARLOW: But Mark Standen is today accused of taking part in what the Australian Federal Police are calling a major and sophisticated international drug smuggling syndicate.

The AFP's deputy commissioner operations, Tony Negus, alleges the plan was to import a large quantity of pseudoephedrine, a chemical which would have later been altered to form the street drug ice.

TONY NEGUS: Around 480 kilograms of ice could have been produced from the 600 kilograms of pseudoephedrine, worth around $120-million on the streets of Australia.

KAREN BARLOW: The total arrests so far are 15, two in Sydney, 12 in the Netherlands and one in Bangkok.

The two Australians, Mark Standen and Bakhos Jalalaty are not described by police as principals in the alleged conspiracy, but a police will allege their crimes took place over a two-year period and police say they have been watching them for a year.

Standen and Jalalaty have been charged with the same three offences: conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled precursor; conspiracy to supply a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug; and conspiracy to defeat justice.

The last charge refers to how Mark Standen's place of employment, the New South Wales Crime Commission, was allegedly used in the importation conspiracy.

While Standen was also investigating other crimes, he was extensively monitored to allow the case against him to be developed.

The head of the New South Wales Crime Commission, Phillip Bradley.

PHILLIP BRADLEY: We had a great deal of coverage of him through both physical surveillance and electronic surveillance.

KAREN BARLOW: It was a complex and global police investigation that led to the arrests.

The Federal Minister for Home Affairs, Bob Debus, says the Australian Federal Police has had to work closely with other agencies over the past two years.

BOB DEBUS: The operation required the AFP to work closely with Australian jurisdictions and officers from the Netherlands, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and Thailand.

KAREN BARLOW: Bob Debus says told Parliament that the $120-million police price tag on the drugs is not the whole story.

BOB DEBUS: The AFP has also estimated that if those drugs had reached the community they would have cause a $140-million worth of harm in terms of social and welfare payments, medical treatment and policing.

KAREN BARLOW: The chemicals never made it to Australia, and the whereabouts of the pseudoephedrine is unknown.

Mark Standen and Bakhos Jalalaty are in custody tonight. Their lawyers are expected to apply for bail on separate dates later this month.

Their cases briefly came before Sydney's Central Local Court today, however they were not required to appear before Magistrate Allan Moore.

Mark Standen's barrister Paul King says his client is being separated from other people in cells for his own safety and is in a reasonable state of mind.

PAUL KING: Look, he is obviously stressed and upset about the whole thing. I think it has all taken him by surprise, but he is coping.

KAREN BARLOW: Paul King is concerned about media reporting of Mark Standen.

PAUL KING: I would ask that those people refrain from making comments and remind everybody that at this particular time he has a presumption of innocence and he is entitled to be dealt with in the criminal justice system exactly the same way as anyone else.

MARK COLVIN: Barrister Paul King ending that report from Karen Barlow. 

Addittional reading File 6.

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