Crystal methamphetamine, also known as ‘ice’, with an estimated street value of $101 million has been seized off the coast of NSW and five men have been charged with commercial drug importation.
It has been reported that the AFP, NSW Police Force, Australian Border Force and Chinese authorities worked together for several months to intercept the 100 kilograms shipment.
Chinese authorities raided a shipping container being used to send two tonnes of steel to Sydney. The drugs were allegedly hidden inside the floor of the container. A Fijian man, an Australia, and three other men, believed to be Central Asian, have been arrested.
The Fijian and Australian have already faced court and were refused bail. They will appear in court again next month.
Police say they delayed announcing details of the bust due to ongoing inquiries, and out of respect for visiting Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, who departed Australia yesterday.
Recent drug busts
Police suggest that further arrests may occur, and have praised the co-operation between local and international law enforcement agencies.
Police say that last November, they broke up a $54 million ice operation on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, seizing three barrels containing around 90 litres of liquid methamphetamine at Palm Beach. A fishing vessel off the coast of Hervey Bay in Queensland was also intercepted. Eight people were arrested.
Since November 2015, almost 7.5 tonnes of illicit substances have been seized, worth an estimated street value of $2 billion.
Authorities attribute the busts to intelligence exchanges with other international drug agencies, which they believe is crucial to detecting and arresting offenders.
On Christmas day 2016, 500 kilograms of cocaine was seized at Brooklyn on the NSW Central Coast. Police allege the same syndicate was attempting to import another 600 kilograms of the drug into Australia, but the shipment was intercepted by the French Navy.
And just last month, six men were arrested after $300 million worth of cocaine was found in a boat moored off Jervis Bay.
Ice and Cocaine are Australia’s ‘biggest problem’
New research facilitated by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) in conjunction with university researchers, suggests that cocaine use is widespread in Sydney, and that the use of ‘ice’ is on the rise in many rural areas.
The research is based on data obtained from sampling wastewater at 51 sewage treatment plants — which service 14 million Australians — in city and ¬regional areas across the country.
Of the 13 drug types tested, NSW topped the list for cocaine with double the amount of the party drug used in Sydney compared with other capital cities.
Much of the previous research relied on self-reporting by users, police arrest data and medical and emergency department statistics to determine the extent of drug use. The move to wastewater analysis promises to paint a more accurate picture of trends in drug manufacture and usage.