Australia busts 585kg 'ya ice' shipment

SYDNEY: A Singaporean and a man from Hong Kong have been arrested in connection with an unprecedented methamphetamine seizure in Australia that was almost double the previous record, police said Thursday.

Photo provided by the Australian Federal Police shows the 585kg of crystal methamphetamine produced in the Golden Triangle and known in Thailand as ya ice.

Police said the pair, aged 32 and 51, were arrested along with a 21-year-old Australian man in raids on six properties across Sydney Wednesday that netted more than half a tonne of crystal methamphetamine, a drug known as "ice" on the streets.

The 585-kilogramme haul was estimated to have a street value of Aus$438 million (US$448 million, or 13.4 billion baht).

"This is the largest single seizure of ice in Australian law enforcement history and almost doubles the previous record seizure of 300 kilogrammes in July 2012," police said in a statement.

The drugs were found in a shipment of cleaning chemicals from Shenjing in southern China following a tip-off to the Asian crime squad in September.

Australian Federal Police Commissioner Tony Negus said the sophisticated syndicate went to "considerable lengths to escape detection" and the authorities had not ruled out further arrests, either in Australia or overseas.

"We've already been in contact with authorities in China and a range of further inquiries are under way," said Negus.

Andrew Scipione, police commissioner of New South Wales state, said it was "very fortunate that somebody took the time to make that phone call."

"This is the sort of drug that sends people mad," he said of the extremely addictive stimulant that can trigger erratic and violent behaviour.

The three arrested men, who will appear in a Sydney court Thursday, face life in prison and/or a Aus$1.275 million fine for commercial drug possession.

The previous record seizure of 306kg came during a probe into a Hong Kong-linked international drugs syndicate that resulted in seven arrests - four of whom were natives of the former British territory.

The drugs had been stashed in terracotta pots in a shipment from Thailand.

More recently, Australian police in November seized 235kg methamphetamine hidden inside a consignment of heavy machinery from China.

Related search: thailand, china, australia, myanmar, golden triangle, drugs, methamphetamine, ya ice, crystal

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Writer: AFP
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