Tip-off Leads to Record Meth Seizure in Australia
An Australian organized crime task force has seized a record 568 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as “ice”, CNN reported. The seizure in Sydney is nearly double the previous Australian law enforcement record of 306 kilograms, set in July 2012.
Authorities found the methamphetamine, worth an estimated $448 million on the street, in shipments of industrial cleaning supplies originating in China. Three men -- a Singaporean, an Australian, and an individual from Hong Kong -- have been taken into custody and charged with intent to possess a commercial amount of narcotics. They face potential life sentences if convicted.
The investigation began in September 2012 following a call from a Sydney-area citizen, ABC reported. A task force was set up and inquiries led authorities to a suspicious facility in the Sydney area. Monitoring of shipments to the facility led to the February 22, 2012 discovery of the methamphetamine. Police replaced the drugs with an inert substance and waited for those linked to the drugs to collect them. On Wednesday, the three suspects allegedly removed what they believed to be the methamphetamine, and were subsequently taken into custody by the task force.
During the course of the operation, six search warrants were also executed across Sydney, leading to the discovery of an alleged drug manufacturing lab, according to Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus.
Negus told reporters at the press conference that the task force was continuing its investigation, and that further investigations had not been ruled out. Authorities in China have also been notified of the case, he said. New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said that beyond the three suspects in custody, there are “more that will likely be arrested.”
The investigative task force involved cooperation between the Australian Federal Police, the New South Wales Police, Australian Customs, the New South Wales Crime Commission, and the Australian Crime Commission. Scipione stressed that while inter-agency cooperation was key to success, “none of it would have happened” if not for a single phone call from the Sydney community. The case, he said, underscored the importance of “community policing” in combating drug trafficking.