SYDNEY – A targeted drug bust has led to the seizure of more than a three-quarter-ton of high-purity ecstasy and the arrest of four people suspected of belonging to a major international organized drug-trafficking ring, Australian police said on Wednesday.
The operation, conducted by state police in Queensland and New South Wales in collaboration with New Zealand law enforcement agencies, has ended in the confiscation of a total of 766 kilograms (1,689 pounds) of 3.4-Methyl-enedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) powder as well as 200 kg of crystal meth seized in New Zealand last week as part of the same multi-agency investigation.
Tests have revealed that the MDMA powder – which police believe was to be used to make pills and capsules – is the purest ever recorded in Queensland.
“We believe the drug would have been diluted with other agents and had the potential to make between six and 12 million capsules,” Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker said in a statement released by Queensland police. “This has a conservative value of 90 million Australian dollars ($61.13 million).”
Police also seized various vehicles, around AU$108,000 in cash and an unspecified amount of other drugs.
Two United Kingdom citizens (aged 51 and 40) were arrested in Queensland and charged with drug possession and supply, while a 26-year-old resident of Logan City has been accused of possession and supply of dangerous drugs whilst belonging to a criminal organization and a 51-year-old woman in NSW was charged in connection with the seized money.
In addition, New Zealand police had charged two UK men, aged 60 and 49, in relation with the 200 kg of methamphetamine (which have an estimated street value of about $93 million) found last Friday during a raid on an apartment in Auckland.
The 60-year-old was detained on the spot and the other suspect was arrested at Auckland Airport as he was allegedly attempting to flee the country.
The sheer size of the haul, the third-biggest of its kind in the region’s history, is expected to have a significant impact on the illicit narcotics market in Australia.
“According to our latest National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program data, it is estimated over 1.1 tons of MDMA are consumed nationally each year, 223 kg in Queensland alone,” explained Dr Katie Willis, the acting Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s state manager for Queensland operations.