SYDNEY, Oct 11 – Australian police said Friday they have seized methamphetamine with a street value of Aus$200 million (US$189 million) concealed in the tyres of a truck shipped from China.
The 200 kilogram (440 pound) bust was made at Port Melbourne with three men, two of them dock workers, arrested and now facing a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Police said the operation involved taskforces in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane with the shipment identified as high risk ahead of its arrival from Shanghai on October 1, following a tip off. A factory and other properties in Melbourne were subsequently raided.
“This seizure has prevented more than Aus$200 million of this substance from being on the streets of our towns and cities in Australia,” said Australian Federal Police Commander Scott Lee.
He said methamphetamine which is also known as crystal meth or “ice” was recognised as “one of the drivers of violence in our community and for recidivist offending”.
“Through our combined commitment to combating this crime type, we are working across jurisdictions and borders to deal significant blows to crime syndicates,” he added.
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service official Graham Krisohos said the truck was targeted after a tip off.
“The concealment did show up on X-ray but what was unusual about the truck, if you just looked at it, literally nothing,” he said.
“I think that just indicates that the concealments are sophisticated and do require expertise and effort to actually uncover the substances.”
The men have been charged with various offences including importing a commercial quantity of a controlled drug and attempting to possess an illegally imported drug.
No arrests have been made in China so far, according to Australian police, with investigations continuing, focusing on Shanghai.
Earlier this year, police warned that wealthy Australia had become a key target for drug traffickers due to the relative strength of the Australian dollar.