Police in Australia seized nearly R12 billion worth of meth hidden inside stereo speakers smuggled in from Thailand
- Three people have been charged with smuggling 1,633 kilograms. of methamphetamine and heroin into Australia by hiding them inside of stereo speakers.
- The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) issued a joint statement on Thursday, saying that seizure was the largest on-shore methamphetamine bust in Australia's history.
- According to police, the drugs are estimated to have a combined street value of over $AU1.2 billion (R12 billion).
- Police estimate that these drugs would have been equivalent to nearly 16 million drug deals.
- "Our officers are constantly alert to attempts to conceal illicit substances, no matter how creative criminal syndicates are in trying to hide them," ABF Assistant Commissioner Enforcement Command Sharon Huey said in a statement.
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Three people have been charged with importing 1,633 kilograms of methamphetamine and heroin into Australia by hiding them inside of stereo speakers originating from Bangkok, Thailand.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) issued a joint statement on Thursday, saying that seizure was the largest on-shore methamphetamine seizure in Australia's history and the largest heroin bust since 2017.
According to police, 1.596 metric tonnes of methamphetamine and 37 kilograms of heroin were found after the AFP executed a series of search warrants in Melbourne. The drugs are estimated to have a street value of $AU1.197 billion (R11.976 billion) and $AU18.5 million (R185 million) respectively.
Police estimate that these drugs would have been equivalent to nearly 16 million drug deals.
Two men ages 37 and 38, along with a 37-year-old woman, are alleged by the AFP to have been involved in the illicit drug smuggling operation.
The ABF caught wind of the operation in April when officers detected the huge shipment inside of vacuum-sealed packages concealed within speakers during a sea cargo inspection at a Melbourne examination facility.
"Our officers are constantly alert to attempts to conceal illicit substances, no matter how creative criminal syndicates are in trying to hide them," ABF Assistant Commissioner Enforcement Command Sharon Huey said in a statement.
All three suspects have each been charged with smuggling a commercial quantity of heroin and methamphetamine. The maximum sentence for the offenses is life in prison.
The suspects are due in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on Thursday.
"Two of the three suspects charged are trusted industry insiders," AFP Deputy Commissioner Neil Gaughan said in a statement. "This joint operation has identified and removed serious vulnerabilities from the Melbourne waterfront."
He added that the AFP has shared intelligence with Thai authorities on the matter, who are conducting their own investigation.
Australia has some of the world's highest rates of meth use, according to a recent study, the most popular form consumed being crystal meth, referred to as "ice." According to the 2019 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey conducted by the University of Melbourne, 5.8% of Australians surveyed have used meth in their lifetime.
"Australia is a lucrative market for drug traffickers only due to the amount of drugs consumed by the public and the price paid for those drugs," Gaughan said. "This is a social problem that is the responsibility of everyone to address."
This is not the first time that drug syndicates have attempted to smuggle drugs inside of musical equipment. In February, US authorities in California seized over $1.3 billion (R19 billion) worth of meth, heroin, and cocaine bound for Australia that were "artfully" hidden in a shipment of speakers.
And in September, drug traffickers in Australia tried to conceal 1.2 tons of drugs on an island off of Western Australia but were thwarted by a seal.