International police have broken up a huge drug smuggling operation preventing millions of ecstasy pills flooding into Australia, officials said minister claimed the drugs were timed to target holidaying teens.
The joint Dutch-Australian operation seized US$200 million worth of MDMA – the key ingredient in ecstasy – in the Netherlands and Belgium and led to charges against 11 people, including one Australian woman, officials said.
“That is one of the most significant operations in the history of the collaboration between all of our agencies,” said Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who leads Australia’s police and security agencies.
Following a months-long investigation, some 700kg of crystalline MDMA were intercepted in August in the Dutch port of Rotterdam, the Australian Federal Police said.
Dutch police then raided 15 locations in the Netherlands and Belgium on Nov 5, uncovering two hidden laboratories, additional stashes of MDMA and 50 tonnes of precursor chemicals, police said.
“We believe that this criminal network was involved and able to produce many thousands of kilos of MDMA, equivalent to tens of millions of pills, a large part of which was likely destined for Australia,” said Andy Kraag, assistant commissioner of the Dutch National Criminal Investigations Division.