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Australian police seize half tonne of drugs worth over $167m

Australian police seize half tonne of drugs worth over $167m

CANBERRA: Almost half a tonne of methamphetamine and precursors smuggled into Australia in bar stools and soup packets have been seized by federal police, resulting in four arrests.

More than $167 million worth of methamphetamine and enough ephedrine to make 250 kilograms of meth were taken by drug authorities at addresses in Sydney’s Kingsgrove and Penshurst after being imported on shipping containers from China.

AFP NSW State Manager Chris Sheehan said the four accused smugglers, including at least two Chinese nationals, were ‘integral members’ of an international drug syndicate.

‘These were not mere low level players,’ Mr Sheehan said.

‘We’re going to allege the people we arrested here in Sydney were significant and integral members of the syndicate.’

Three of the four accused – a 57-year-old Australian female and two 45 and 50-year-old Chinese men – are alleged to have controlled the operation and been in place to have extracted the drugs from the stools and packets.

They have been charged with conspiracy to import and possess commercial quantities of drugs.

The fourth man, a 26-year-old arrested in Narwee on Thursday evening, allegedly attempted to possess an amount of the ephedrine.

All four will face court later on Friday

The accused could face life imprisonment if convicted.

Police will allege the drugs and precursors were smuggled into Sydney on three shipping containers from Ningbo Port in China.

The containers were inspected on January 6 and 7 by the Australian Border Force and, after the concealed drugs were located, tracked to their residential destination.

China is a common source of methamphetamine imports to Australia.

‘China is in relatively close proximity to Australia and hence our focus on establishing Taskforce Blaze with the Chinese authorities,’ he said.

Taskforce Blaze is a bilateral program between the AFP and Chinese anti-narcotics enforcement bodies to investigate the methamphetamine trade.

More than seven tonnes of drugs were seized by border control authorities in 2015.