Australia: Man Who Trafficked Meth Within Cow Hides Sentenced to 22 Years

Published: 10 May 2023

Drugs in cow hidesA Mexican drug trafficker who hid 668 kgs of meth within rotting cow hides was sentenced in Australia to 22 years in prison. (Photo: Australian Federal Police, License)

By Henry Pope

Australian authorities convicted Monday a Mexican national for his role in an elaborate conspiracy to import more than 600 kilograms of methamphetamine within the folds of decomposing, raw cow hides.

The unnamed drug trafficker was caught in August 2019 following a raid earlier that year, where federal police agents uncovered 668 kg of crystal meth hidden inside of fouled, raw animal skins. The quantities seized would have been enough to supply more than 6.6 million street deals.

It was the largest drug bust of Mexican-based meth in Australia’s history.

Police Superintendent Anthony Hall noted how the concealment of drugs in untreated cow hides presents a significant biological hazard for anyone in the vicinity. “It also demonstrates the unsafe, disgusting journey drugs can often take on their way to a consumer,” he added.

Footage provided by law enforcement shows the drugs cached in the hides as if they were thick winter blankets. Significant amounts of white powder covered the rotted bovine interiors and the plastic-wrapped narcotics within.

The shipment entered the country in a container labeled “Cuero Verde Salado De Bovino,” or “Salted Green Bovine Leather.”

Inside were 18 pallets of frozen, raw and untreated cow skins. Investigators tasked with processing the hides at the scene described the smell as “putrid.”

Folded within were a total of 167 sealed packages containing the methamphetamine, each of them labeled “P”. Photographs displaying the evidence show that the hides were so numerous, they had to be contained within sacks large enough to hold bales of hay.

Forensic testing later confirmed that the manufactured narcotics were of a particularly high purity level.

The Mexican national, who was sentenced to 22 years in prison, has since been linked to a transnational organized crime syndicate. He will not be eligible for parole until May 2038.

“These organized crime syndicates inflict human suffering at all stages of their activities; this occurs at the supply end in Mexico, through to the harm suffered by users and their families here in Australia,” Hall said.