Australia

Australia police find 400kg of drugs in hot sauce bottles

New South Wales police force picture of sriracha chilli sauce bottles carrying hundreds of kilograms of crystal meth Image copyright New South Wales Police Force
Image caption Police say the 768 bottles of hot sauce were en route to a lab so the drugs could be extracted

Four men have been arrested after Australian police found 400kg (882lb) of crystal methamphetamine hidden inside imported hot sauce bottles.

Authorities searched a consignment of sriracha chilli sauce shipped to Sydney from the US to discover drugs worth roughly A$300 million (£161m; $207m).

They subsequently arrested four men aged 30, 34, 36 and 45 - the oldest of whom was detained on Thursday.

Police are in touch with US authorities in a bid to find the shipment's origin.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said the 768 bottles were en route to a "clandestine lab" in Sydney when they were found.

He described the four men arrested as "key members" of a crime network, and vowed to track down others with links to the group.

The Sydney Morning Herald quoted one officer who said the drugs had been suspended in the sriracha chilli sauce, saying it was a "sophisticated" process which would require chemistry knowledge by senders and receivers.

Methamphetamine use seems to have dipped slightly in Australia in recent years, but government statistics suggest dependency and the harm caused by the drug has increased.

It is not the first time Australian police have foiled novel attempts to ship the drug into the country.

Officers found A$1.2bn worth of methamphetamine hidden inside stereo speakers and shipped to Melbourne in June.

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