Almost two tonnes of methamphetamine has been seized by Australian police – the biggest bust of the drug in the country’s history.
Police found 1,800kg of what is known locally as ice inside shipping containers at a Sydney port. The record haul was concealed in marble and has a street value of more than A$1.6bn ($1.1bn; £942m).
Three men have been charged over their alleged roles in importing the drugs from the Middle East. Authorities say the men are part of a broader syndicate with international links.
New South Wales Police said the group was “sophisticated” but officers could not believe their “audacity” in attempting to import such large drug quantities without detection.
“These figures are staggering,” said Detective Chief Supt John Watson. “This seizure is the biggest in Australia’s history.”
Australia is in the grip of what authorities have called an “ice epidemic”. They say the drug is fuelling violent crimes, addiction and mental health problems, particularly in regional communities.
The country has the highest reported methamphetamine use per capita in the world, with about 6% of Australians which amount to 1.2 million people – having used the drug.
In an unrelated investigation earlier this month, police seized over 150kg of methamphetamine from a vintage Bentley at the same Sydney port.
Acting on a tip off, border officials X-rayed the luxury car, which had arrived from Canada – and found “anomalies”.
Police then found drugs concealed behind its headlights, ultimately uncovering a total of 161kg of methamphetamine and 30kg of cocaine. Three men have been arrested.