A 1.8 tonne haul of liquid methamphetamine with an estimated street value of $1bn has been seized by Australian police in Hong Kong.
The class A drug, which was bound for Australia, had been found hidden in cartons of coconut water.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) in Hong Kong worked with Hong Kong Customs and Excise (HKCE) to intercept what they said was a “record-breaking” stash.
The AFP said the illicit consignment was identified using intelligence developed by AFP officers in Mexico and the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
They said “international cooperation” then led HKCE to find the meth on 23 October.
The drug – which is commonly referred to by its street name “ice” because of the glass-like appearance of its white crystals – had been bound for New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.
The AFP said the drugs had a wholesale value of $347m.
In a statement, the AFP said: “Mexican-based officers used their international network to alert AFP officers in Hong Kong about the suspicious consignment being shipped from Mexico to Australia via Hong Kong.
“Ongoing investigations are under way to identify the transnational serious organised criminals involved in the plot”.
AFP Detective Superintendent Patrick Gordon, the AFP’s senior officer in Mexico, said: “The harsh reality is that Australia’s problem of illicit drug use is bankrolling a raft of dangerous and brutal cartels, triads and outlaw motorcycle gangs.
“These criminals undermine our national security and our economy. They make our suburbs and roads less safe.
“This amount of meth could have been sold as about 18 million street level deals, so the NSW and Australian community is safer because these drugs were seized.”
Methamphetamine is one of the most potent varieties of amphetamine, with Australia having the highest meth addiction rate in the world, according to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).