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    Feb 16, 2016

    $1b worth of Ice seized in Australian drug bust


    THREE Hong Kongers and a mainland Chinese have been arrested in Australia following one of the biggest drug busts in the country, in which A$1 billion (S$1 billion) worth of liquid methamphetamine hidden in inserts for bras and art supplies were seized.

    "This has resulted in 3.6 million individual hits of Ice being taken off our streets with a street value of A$1.26 billion," the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) quoted Justice Minister Michael Keenan as saying yesterday.

    He used the common name for methamphetamine.

    Australian Federal Police Commander Chris Sheehan said the bust operation began in December when the Australian Border Force examined a shipping container in Sydney which originated from mainland China and came via Hong Kong, reported the Agence France-Presse (AFP).

    "That container was found to contain gel bra inserts and hidden inside those gel bra inserts was 190 litres of liquid methamphetamine," he said.

    The seizure was referred to the Australian Federal Police, which subsequently found an additional 530 litres of liquid methamphetamine in five storage facilities in Sydney - all hidden in art supplies, including children's paint-by-numbers kits, reported the SMH.

    In connection to the container case, a 33-year-old Hong Kong man was arrested last month and charged for importing illegal drugs.

    On Jan 25, a 59-year-old mainland Chinese man and two Hong Kongers - a 37-year-old man and a 52-year-old woman - were arrested after they were found manufacturing drugs in two Sydney residences from the stash found in the storage units.

    They would be charged for manufacturing commercial quantities of illegal drugs, and all four suspects face a potential life sentence if convicted.

    The liquid could have made about 500kg of high-grade crystal meth, Commander Sheehan said.

    The sting was part of Task Force Blaze, a rare operation established in November between the Australian Federal Police and the Chinese National Narcotics Control Commission - the first joint effort between the two targeting the booming Ice market, said AFP.