FIVE men have been charged with importing up to 300 kilograms of pure pseudo-ephedrine following a joint operation in Melbourne.
According to federal and state authorities, this amount of pseudo-ephedrine has the potential to produce more than 210 kilograms of methamphetamine, with an estimated street price topping $200m.
The bust occurred as part of Operation Haughton, a joint investigation involving the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Victoria Police, the Australian Border Force (ABF) and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).
The five men aged between 27 and 48 were arrested on Saturday January 7, with police raiding eight locations in the Melbourne suburbs of Burnside, St Albans, Sunshine, East Keilor and Tottenham.
The consignment was found at a Tottenham factory.
Police allege the syndicate imported the pseudo-ephedrine mixture (arriving in Melbourne from Vietnam on December 9) in 57 boxes, hidden among more than 900 boxes of washing powder.
Australian Border Force officers at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility used ACIC intelligence to select the consignment for examination and found the powder tested positive for pseudo-ephedrine.
The total weight of the pseudo-ephedrine/white powder mix was 1000 kilograms and it is estimated about 300 kilograms of pure pseudo-ephedrine was mixed into the white powder.
Pseudo-ephedrine is a direct precursor of methamphetamine.
It is also expected to be alleged the syndicate was responsible for a clandestine laboratory located in Werribee, Victoria, which produced more than 500 kilograms of methamphetamine.
All five men appeared in Melbourne Magistrates Court on Sunday January, charged with several offences relating to importing and trafficking.
Bail was refused for all five men and they are to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday January 13.