Australia

Australia's biggest meth bust: Drugs found hidden inside speakers

Police-supplied picture of the drug packages inside an opened stereo speaker during examination Image copyright AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE
Image caption Methamphetamine, or ice, is the most common illicit drug in Australia

Australian authorities say they have seized the nation's largest-ever haul of methamphetamine, an illicit drug known locally as ice.

The drugs, with an estimated street value of A$1.2bn (£660m; $840m), were found hidden inside stereo speakers in a shipment at a Melbourne port.

The consignment had come from Thailand, police said. No arrests have been made.

Ice has been described as the most common and damaging illegal drug in Australia.

Authorities said the 1.6 tonne bust was equal to more than 13% of all drugs seized in the state of Victoria last year.

It was detected after the Australian Border Force (ABF) used an X-ray to reveal "anomalies" in the cargo shipment following its arrival from Bangkok.

Police said about 37kg of heroin was also discovered in vacuum-sealed bags inside the speakers.

Image copyright AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE
Image caption The 1.6 tonne stash was found hidden inside speakers

ABF regional commander Craig Palmer said it was "the largest meth bust we've ever seen in this country" and showed the "brazen nature of those involved in this criminal activity".

The Australian Federal Police said the "insidious" drugs would have devastated communities.

They have appealed for public help to find those responsible.

Australia's 'ice' problem

The powerful drug - which can be smoked, snorted or injected - became the focus of a national taskforce in 2015 to tackle its growing use.

The move followed a report by the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) that found crystal meth posed the highest risk to communities of any illegal substance.

Victoria - Australia's second-most populous state - consumes more than two tonnes of crystal meth every year, according to government figures.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionAustralians fight drug addiction with plane flying lessons

The ACC says the price of crystal meth in Australia is among the highest in the world, driving the country's organised crime gangs to trade increasingly in the drug.

In February, police arrested six people in Victoria and New South Wales after a huge stash of the drug was intercepted in the US.

More on this story