Authorities in Melbourne have seized their biggest ever onshore haul of methamphetamine, the drug commonly known as ice. The drugs were stashed in stereo speakers that had originated in Thailand.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officials have discovered nearly 1.6 metric tons (3,530 pounds) of methamphetamine after examining containers at an inspection facility in Melbourne.
Officers examined a sea cargo consignment and found the drugs hidden inside stereo speakers that had come from the Thai capital, Bangkok.
The haul was detected with X-ray equipment, which revealed that something was not quite right with the audio equipment. Along with the methamphetamine, also known as meth or ice, the inspection team also discovered a significant quantity of heroin.
The meth stash was estimated to have a street value of nearly AU$1.2 billion (€740 million, $835 million).
"Without the sophisticated targeting and detection capabilities of the ABF, these drugs would have made it to the streets of Melbourne and beyond," said Craig Palmer, regional border force commander.
"This is the largest meth bust we've ever seen in this country and demonstrates not only the brazen nature of those involved in this criminal activity but the resolve of the ABF in Victoria and around the country to stop these imports," Palmer said.
The force said the volume of the "mammoth shipment" was equivalent to 13% of the total drugs it seized nationally in the whole of the past financial year.
"The effect of these drugs on the community and families would have been profound," said Peter Bodel, acting commander of the ABF's Organized Crime Unit.
In February, US customs officials at the Los Angeles Long Beach port complex seized 1.72 metric tons of methamphetamine that had been bound for Australia. That shipment was also hidden inside loudspeakers, but was thought to have belonged to Mexican cartels that were actively targeting Australia.
Authorities say Australia is suffering a "serious epidemic" of drug use with an "insatiable demand" for illicit substances that has led to a record number of seizures and arrests in recent years.