Australian police have arrested three Hong Kongers and one mainland Chinese man in connection with the seizure of the largest-ever haul of liquid methamphetamine in the police’s history.
Around 190 liters of the drug, also known as ice, was discovered inside thousands of gel pads that are inserted into push-up bras, after traveling from mainland China to Sydney through Hong Kong. Police traced another 530 liters of the stimulant to the gang, stashed in art supplies across five warehouses in Sydney.
“This has resulted in 3.6 million individual hits of ice being taken off our streets,” Michael Keenan, Australian justice minister, said today (Feb. 15) when the bust was announced. The drugs had a street value of A$1.3 billion ($900 million).
The bust is part of a rare cooperation between Chinese and non-Chinese police forces, called “Taskforce Blaze.”
Police arrested one Hong Kong man, 33, in January, on charges relating to the liquid ice smuggled in bra inserts. A mainland Chinese man, 59, a Hong Kong man, 37, and a Hong Kong woman, 52, were arrested later. All of the suspects are believed to be integral parts of the operation to smuggle the drugs to Australia, police say, rather than lower-level operatives. Each of them could now face life in jail.
The arrests are a big win for Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, whose government announced A$300 million ($214 million) in new investment to fight the import and sale of methamphatamines last year. The Australian Crime Commission said in a report that the drug was one of the most commonly used illegal substances (pdf).