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Australia makes record ecstasy pill bust

Two Polish nationals have been charged after Australian police seized more than 1.2 tons of ecstasy in the country's largest drug bust this year. Authorities estimate the street value at 100 million euros ($110 million).

Australian authorities seized 1.2 tons of the illicit party drug ecstasy this month in Sydney, officials announced Saturday. The largest drug haul so far this year was made after about 4.5 million tablets containing the drug crystal Methylenedioxy methamphetamine (MDMA) was found concealed inside in a shipment of metal from the Czech Republic following a tip-off to police.

"The goods were declared as aluminum rolls and within the aluminum rolls there was a number of lead casings that concealed the actual narcotics themselves, so it's a very sophisticated concealment," Border Force Commander Tim Fitzgerald told reporters.

Two Polish men, aged 28 and 29, were arrested and charged for allegedly importing the drugs. They were denied bail at a hearing held at Parramatta Local Court on Saturday.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the seizure was one for the record books: "This is the largest drug haul in Australia so far in 2016 and the fourth-largest ecstasy seizure on record," he said.

Investigations by police and Australian customs are continuing and further arrests are anticipated, authorities said, adding that the smugglers had used a very advanced technique to hide the drugs, which suggested a sophisticated criminal operation.

Related to amphetamines, MDMA can cause a surge in euphoria and increase energy, making it a popular recreational stimulant, especially in dance clubs. 

jar/kl (AFP, dpa, Reuters)