Australian authorities seize drugs shipped from China

AP News
Posted: Jan 21, 2016 9:46 PM

SYDNEY (AP) — Australian authorities said Friday they had seized large quantities of methamphetamine and ephedrine hidden in bar stools and soup mix packets shipped from China to Sydney.

Four people were arrested in Sydney on Thursday and charged over the shipment of illicit drugs and chemicals contained in three shipping containers that arrived this month from the Chinese port of Ningbo, Australian Federal Police Commander Chris Sheehan said.

Customs officers found 159 kilograms (351 pounds) of methamphetamine worth an estimated 107 million Australian dollars ($75 million) in the backs of the bar stools. They found 340 kilograms (750 pounds) of ephedrine, an ingredient used in methamphetamine, in the powdered soup packets.

A 57-year-old Australian woman and two Chinese man aged 45 and 50 were to appear in a Sydney court on multiple drug charges. A 26-year-old man, whose nationality has yet to be determined, would also appear.

Australia is an attractive market for international drug traffickers because the price of methamphetamine is relatively high.

Australian police established a task force in November with the Chinese National Narcotics Control Commission to investigate criminal syndicates trafficking methamphetamine. Police said the seizure and arrests were the result of a tip-off, but would not say where the information had come from.