SYDNEY – Australian police announced on Thursday the seizure of 755 kilograms (1,664 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine that had been imported from Mexico hidden inside raw animal hides.
In a joint statement by the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Border Force, authorities said they had also arrested a 42-year-old man on Wednesday who is allegedly involved with a Mexican-based organized crime syndicate.
The two law enforcement agencies launched the joint operation on Aug. 13 following the arrival of a shipping container in Sydney from Mexico, whose manifest declared that the shipment contained “salty bovine skin.”
ABF officers inspected 18 pallets of frozen cowhides and found 161 silver packages of high-grade crystal meth, a potent stimulant also known as “ice” due to its crystalline form.
According to the statement, the haul has an estimated street value of AU$566.3 million (some US$381 million) and could have generated over 7.5 million individual street deals.
The man who was arrested, a Mexican national, has been charged with importing a commercial quantity of a controlled substance and attempting to possess a commercial quantity of the drug.
In Australia, the maximum sentence for such crimes is life in prison.
“If these drugs had made their way into Australian communities, countless lives would have been affected,” said the federal assistant minister for customs, Jason Wood. “The Australian government will continue to support the identification and prosecution of those involved in attempting to import illegal substances into Australia.”
This seizure comes almost three months after a shipment of 1.6 tons of crystal meth originating in Thailand was discovered in Melbourne, the largest-ever drug bust involving this substance in the Oceanic country.