Australia finds record drug haul among Thai terracotta pots

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 31, 2012 12:49 AM

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police on Tuesday seized a record half a tonne of the drug ice and heroin worth up to A$500 million ($525 million) hidden in a shipment of terracotta pots from Thailand.

Seven people, including four from Hong Kong, were arrested after a year-long investigation following a tip-off from U.S. authorities, police said.

The 306 kg of methamphetamine, also known as ice, was Australia's biggest seizure of the drug, while the 252 kg of heroin was the nation's third largest-haul of heroin.

"At the end of the day, there's a lot of 'Mr Mediums' and 'Mr Littles' that work with 'Mr Big'," Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin told reporters. "I think we've got a good combination of the people responsible for this importation."

The drugs were found hidden in a shipment of 3,200 terracotta pots at Sydney's Port Botany.

Those arrested were charged with conspiracy to import illicit drugs and holding a commercial quantity of illicit drugs. The charges carry a maximum penalty of life in jail.

"We're talking about a significant quantity of two separate types of substances which generally have different source countries," Colvin said, adding the investigation was continuing and further arrests were possible.

(Reporting By Maggie Lu Yueyang in Canberra and Stuat McDill in Sydney; Editing by Nick Macfie)