By Matt Goss
SYDNEY, April 5 (PNA/Xinhua) — Australian authorities have seized a record 903 kilograms of methamphetamine in Melbourne.
The haul, which has an estimated value of USD 670 million, is the largest ever methamphetamine, commonly known as ice, bust in Australia’s history.
The joint operation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Victoria Police discovered the drugs hidden in a shipment of wooden floorboards that arrived in Melbourne on Wednesday.
The drugs, which represented nine million hits of ice, were found sandwiched between the floorboards.
Prime Minister (PM) Malcolm Turnbull praised the work of police services for the intercept.
“This was nearly a tonne of ice, so this is a great credit to our border protection and our police in confiscating this enormous shipment,” Turnbull told reporters on Wednesday.
He said that the government was working “ruthlessly” to combat Australia’s ice epidemic.
“We are working domestically and internationally to catch these merchants of death, these people who traffic in ice, to catch them and intercept their deadly cargoes and we’re successful in doing that,” he said.
“At the same time, we’re working with compassion with the community and with people who have become subject to ice addiction to help them.
“Ice is a scourge. It destroys lives, it destroys families and communities.”
The AFP said it had provided intelligence to Victoria Police’s clandestine laboratory squad which then carried out raids on 12 properties across Melbourne which led to the seizure on Wednesday.
Michael Keenan, Australia’s Justice Minister, confirmed that two men, aged 53 and 36 respectively, have been charged with drug trafficking offences in connection with the bust.
“This successful result cannot be underestimated,” Keenan said.
“It is a very serious blow to organized crime around the country.
“Ice represents the most serious epidemic that we have faced in Australia’s history.”
Keenan said the bust was indicative of strong relationship shared by the AFP and Victoria Police.
“I want to congratulate our dedicated law enforcement officials who have been involved in this operation and thank them again for the dedication that they show in taking illicit drugs off our streets,” he said.
It was the second record seizure of illicit drugs in Australia in 2017 after 1.4 tonnes of cocaine was discovered on a boat off the coast of New South Wales (NSW) in February.
Recent studies of sewage water nationwide suggested that ice was the most used illicit drug in Australia.
Western Australia (WA) was hit particularly hard by ice with rural and metro sites across the state found to far exceed the national ice use average.
High levels were also found in South Australia (SA) as well as rural sites in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.
Following the release of the waste water report in March, Keenan said there had been “an explosion” in ice use in Australia in recent years.
“Sadly it confirms what we already knew anecdotally and that is in Australia we have an enormous problem with illicit drugs,” Keenan said.
The seizure came less than a week after the AFP seized 300 kilograms of ice and arrested three Vietnamese nationals in Melbourne.
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