SYDNEY, June 8 (Xinhua) -- The alleged kingpin of an international "dark web" drug syndicate has been charged by police in Sydney on Friday, after being taken into custody by detectives on Thursday.
Facing a total of 45 counts, the 33-year-old man stands accused of importing and supplying a commercial quantity of prohibited drugs, as well as dealing in the proceeds of crime and directing a criminal group.
"Detectives from Eastern Suburbs Police Area Command commenced Strike Force Bergmark in February this year to investigate the syndicate, which police suspected was importing illicit drugs from Europe to Australia via postal services," New South Wales State Police said in a statement.
"With the assistance of Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police and other interstate policing jurisdictions, several dozen suspicious packages were tracked and intercepted arriving into New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia from January this year."
During the four-month investigation, police seized over 0.5 kg of cocaine, more than 5 liters of liquid MDMA, 6 kg of MDMA (Ecstasy) pills, 1 kg of ketamine, 800 grams of MDMA rock and 0.5 kg of methamphetamine.
In total, the prohibited drugs have an estimated street value of over 1.5 million Australian dollars (1.1 million U.S. dollars).
When officers executed a search warrant at a Sydney home Thursday, police seized cocaine, computers, mobile phones, a diamond ring, 70,000 Australian dollars (53,000 U.S. dollars) of cash and 350,000 Australian dollars (266,000 U.S. dollars) worth of cryptocurrency.
A second search warrant issued Friday at a financial institution also seized a number of documents.
According to Roderic Broadhurst, a professor of criminology at the Australian National University, the use of the "dark web" to distribute illicit drugs is a growing problem in Australia and around the world.
"It's a very efficient way to do crime, organized crime in particular," the expert said.