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 on Thursday.
Police said the pair, aged 32 and 51, were arrested along with a 21-year-old Australian man in an operation on Wednesday that netted more than half a tonne of the drug known as Ice in raids on six properties across Sydney.
The 585 kg haul was estimated to have a street value of A$438 million (HK$3.5 billion).
“This is the largest single seizure of ice in Australian law enforcement history and almost doubles the previous record seizure of 300kg in July last year,” police said in a statement.
The drugs were found in a shipment of cleaning chemicals from Shenzhen 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 585kg haul was estimated to have a street value of A$438 million (HK$3.5 billion)
The three arrested men, who will appear in a Sydney court on Thursday, face life in prison and/or a A$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 city.
The drugs had been stashed in terracotta pots in a shipment from Thailand.
More recently, Australian police in November seized 235kg of methamphetamine hidden inside a consignment of heavy machinery from China.