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Australian police seize 400 pounds of crystal meth

Oct. 16, 2013 at 5:02 AM   |   Comments

MELBOURNE, Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Australian Federal Police seized more than 400 pounds of crystal methamphetamine hidden inside the tires of a truck that had come from China aboard a ship.

Police also arrested three men -- two of them dock workers in the port of Melbourne -- during the drug-smuggling crackdown that stopped $200 million worth of "ice" hitting the streets, the Herald Sun newspaper reported.

AFP Commander Scott Lee said three men were arrested as part of an eight-raid operation carried out by several enforcement agencies.

The men are suspected of being members of an international organized crime syndicate.

Dock workers Patrick Cini, 59, and his 29-year-old son Rhys, were charged with importing and attempting to possess a commercial quantity of methamphetamine.

The third man, Rami Tawachi, 25, was charged with the same offenses, the Herald Sun report said.

The ship had sailed from Shanghai and was suspected by customs officials after it arrived in Brisbane Sept. 13.

Police tracked the ship to the Port of Melbourne on Oct. 1 where the drugs were delivered to a factory in Brooklyn, a town north of Sydney.

"This seizure has prevented more than $200 million worth of this harmful substance from hitting the streets," Lee said.

"Crystal methamphetamine addiction is recognized as one of the drivers of violence in our community and for recidivist offending."

Police also seized $80,000 in cash, several cell phones and computer hard drives.

The Herald Sun reported Victoria State Police Acting Deputy Commissioner Steve Fontana saying he didn't believe the men were linked to biker gangs.

But Fontana said investigators had identified "a number of vulnerabilities in our borders" linked to "serious and organized crime, particularly international syndicates, that are operating in [the state of] Victoria."

The arrest comes after another big bust by the AFP in Sydney last month, when four people, including two Canadians, were picked up in a near record seizure of the drug ephedrine -- 600 pounds of it.

As part of the ephedrine operation, police in India arrested a man for importation trafficking of the drug, estimated to have had a street value or around $200 million.

Authorities discovered packages of ephedrine during a pest check on a large shipment of basmati rice that had arrived at the Port of Melbourne from India July 16.

Police tracked the movement of the rice to a storage facility in the Sydney suburb of Fairfield.

On Oct. 10, police in the northern city of Brisbane seized $60,000 worth of drugs, including 400 MDMA pills and methamphetamine, along with a cash, drug utensils and an extendable baton, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Another batch of methamphetamine worth $50,000 was found in a car nearby.

Two local men aged 32 and 22 were arrested and charged with drug possession and a 28-year-old man from Australia's Gold Coast region will appear in court in connection with a suspected drugs selling operation, the ABC reported.

Illegal use of methamphetamine,-- traditionally trafficked in crystal form -- is a social problem especially acute in southeast Asia.

But a new potent liquid form was discovered recently in a junior high school in Texas.

Officials at Blocker Middle School in Galveston county called EMS once they realized that six female eight-grade girls had ingested meth.

They were released into the custody of their parents after being treated at a local hospital but suspended from school.

The drug was on small pieces of paper wrapped in tinfoil.

Officials believe that users place the paper stamps in their mouths and allow them to dissolve.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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