Kiwi in record Australian drug bust
Thursday 28 Feb 2013 12:16 p.m.
Opened bag of methamphetamine seized by police in Sydney on Wednesday (AAP)
A New Zealand-born man is among three people arrested after an Australian record seizure of 585 kilograms of ice, or crystal methamphetamine, worth more than AU$430 million (NZ$531m) in Sydney.
A member of the public contacted New South Wales police after witnessing what they thought was suspicious activity at a storage facility in West Ryde.
The information was received by authorities in September last year, leading a joint organised crime group to launch an investigation into a possible drug importation.
The Asian Crime Squad, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service then detected a number of suspicious shipping container arrivals into Sydney over the next several months.
Last week, on February 22, authorities detected a container from southern China that had the drugs hidden inside one-tonne bags of chemicals used in cleaning products.
The drugs were removed, replaced with a similar quantity of an inert substance, and allowed to continue on their journey.
On Wednesday, three men were arrested at a warehouse in Regents Park in western Sydney, where they were attempting to remove the dummy substance.
"None of it would have happened if it wasn't for that one phone call from the community," NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said on Thursday.
A 32-year-old Singaporean national, a 51-year-old man from Hong Kong and a 21-year-old New Zealand-born Australian citizen from southwest Sydney have been charged with a range of offences, including attempting to possess a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
The maximum penalty for the offences is life imprisonment and/or a fine of AU$1.275m.
All three men will appear in Sydney's Central Local Court on Thursday.
In addition to the arrests, police executed six search warrants across Sydney.
This seizure of methamphetamine nearly doubles the previous record haul of 300kg in July last year.