FEDERAL authorities say they have seized 755kg of crystal methamphetamine (ice) hidden inside raw animal hides imported from Mexico.
This is the largest onshore seizure of ice originating from Mexico.
The attention of police and the Australian Border Force was piqued on 13 August, after a shipping container, declared as containing “Salty Bovine Skin Cuero Verde Salado De Bovino”, arrived in Sydney from Mexico.
The shipment was examined by ABF officers and 18 pallets of frozen, raw and untreated cow skins were discovered.
Further inspection revealed 161 silver packages of a crystalline white substance within the skins.
Tests showed the packages contained high grade crystal methamphetamine.
According to authorities, this seizure would have an estimated street value of $566.3m and could have generated more than 7.5m street deals.
On Wednesday AFP officers raided premises in St Kilda, Melbourne, seizing electronic items and arresting a 42-year-old Mexican man and charging him with importing the drugs.
Assistant customs minister Jason Wood, said the massive seizure of ice had been kept off the streets thanks to dedication of officers.
“If these drugs had made their way into Australian communities, countless lives would have been affected,” Mr Wood said.
“The Australian government will continue to support the identification and prosecution of those involved in attempting to import illegal substances into Australia.”
AFP Commander Amanda Kates said the hard work of AFP investigators and ABF officers had prevented a vast amount of harmful drugs reaching Melbourne streets.
“Hiding drugs in untreated cow hides presented a significant biological hazard for AFP and ABF members extracting it,” Commander Kates said.
“It once again shows organised criminal syndicates have no conscience or care for those they are targeting with their illegal products.”
Commander Kates said those who bought and used drugs were helping organised crime flourish.
ABF Regional Commander Victoria and Tasmania Craig Palmer said the detection showed the valuable role the community played in protecting the border.
“This container was targeted due to information gained from intelligence work,” Commander Palmer said. “This is the fourth major detection of ice in just three months.”