Aussie police charge 4 in record meth seizure

AP News
|
Posted: May 04, 2011 11:10 PM

Australian police seized a record 527 pounds (239 kilograms) of the illicit drug methamphetamine smuggled from Europe and have charged four suspects, officials said Thursday.

The four men _ two Australians, a Belgian and a Dutchman _ face a maximum penalty of life in prison over the drug haul, which police value at 50 million Australian dollars ($54 million).

The suspects were arrested in Sydney and the western coastal city of Perth in operations starting in late March. They have been charged with trafficking commercial quantities of a controlled drug, also known as ice, and possession of the drug, Australian Federal Police said in a statement.

Assistant Commissioner Kevin Zuccato alleged the 41-year-old Belgian and the 43-year-old Dutchman _ whose names have not been released _ ran the operation from Sydney's upscale eastern beachside suburbs on behalf of a global syndicate.

"We have dealt this syndicate a significant blow and one that they will certainly feel both here and overseas," Zuccato told reporters.

Police will not comment on whether arrests have also been made overseas in relation to the syndicate.

With the Australian dollar hovering near its recent record $1.10, Zuccato said organized crime syndicates saw Australia as a lucrative drug market.

Australia's previous record methamphetamine seizure was 483 pounds (219 kilograms) in Melbourne in 2008.