Police arrest a suspected member of an international drug smuggling syndicate. Photo: Australian Federal PoliceAn international drug smuggling attempt has been thwarted following the discovery of almost 500 kilograms of illegal drugs hidden in bar stools and soup-mix packets from China, police say.
The drugs, which allegedly included 159 kilograms of ice, were concealed in three shipping containers that arrived at Sydney’s Port Botany on January 1.
Australian Border Force officers inspected the containers after receiving a tip-off from their overseas counterparts.
They allegedly found the ice, which police said had a potential street value of more than $105 million, concealed in the seat backs of the chairs, while 340 kilograms of ephedrine, a “precursor” drug that could be used to make ice, was allegedly uncovered inside soup-mix packets.
Australian Federal Police Commander Chris Sheehan said that this was a “very significant seizure”.
“As a result of this seizure, there are Australians who will not die of drug overdoses, Australians whose homes won’t be burgled, whose businesses won’t be robbed and it will save the health system millions of dollars of treatment,” he said.
As part of the investigation, police led the controlled delivery of the drugs to three addresses in Peakhurst and Kingsgrove, in Sydney’s south.
Four people were arrested on Thursday after search warrants were executed across south-west Sydney.
A 57-year-old Australian woman, a 45-year-old Chinese man and a 50-year-old Chinese man were charged for their alleged role in the importation of the drugs.
A 26-year-old Sydney man was arrested at Narwee and charged with attempting to possess a commercial quantity of ice.
“It is our belief that the people we have arrested here in Sydney were significant, integral members of the syndicate,” Commander Sheehan said.
Police allege the 26-year-old man was a “crucial component” of the ring.
All four were due to face court on Friday.
Another man was arrested and released without charge, pending further inquiries.
Commander Sheehan praised the work of the officers involved and said that investigations would continue, with further arrests possible.
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