Drugs worth more than $1.5 billion have been seized in Australia’s second-largest drugs bust.
Around 2.8 tonnes of illicit drugs were seized, including 1917kg of MDMA and 849kg of methamphetamine (also known as ice). Six people have been charged with drug importation offences.
Police will allege the consignment originated in Europe before arriving in Australia earlier this month.
Customs chief executive Roman Quaedvlieg said officers acting on an ongoing intelligence operation found the drugs while searching a sea cargo container from Hamburg in Germany last Friday.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Andrew Colvin said the narcotics were concealed with furniture.
Commissioner Colvin said it was the largest Australian seizure of methamphetamine and the second largest of MDMA.
“By any measure this is an enormous seizure of illicit narcotics that have been removed from distribution on our streets,” he said.
Commissioner Colvin said the MDMA was in various forms, but mostly powder.
“We have to presume at some point it would be pressed into pills. I understand there are also some pills in that,” he said.
Search warrants are currently being executed across New South Wales and Commissioner Colvin said the AFP were hopeful of further arrests.
The Commissioner said it was a sophisticated, controlled operation involving AFP, NSW Police and Australian Customs officers.
He added that police managed the delivery of the narcotics to try to identify as many of the people involved as possible.
Police are also working closely with the German federal police and Interpol.
Commissioner Colvin said the investigation would probably determine a number of organised crime groups involved in the delivery.
“Those we’ve arrested today we’ll allege they’re part of the importation. Where they sit in the scale of importation is yet to be determined,” he said.
“This obviously has linkages overseas that will take us, I’m sure, into Europe and parts of Asia.
“There will be a number of people involved, probably a number of organised crime groups.”
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the seizure would have a significant impact on organised crime.
“When we talk about 2 tonnes of MDMA, we’re talking upwards of 10 million individual doses, tablets,” he said.
“The notion of stopping the importation is one thing, but the message that needs to go to those that are in the business of importing these drugs is just as important.
“My advice is go somewhere else, go to another country. Don’t bring your evil poison here to Australia.”