Steamroller yields A$237m China drugs haul

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 4:08am

Australian police said yesterday they had seized cocaine and methamphetamine worth A$237 million (HK$1.9 billion) shipped from China and hidden in a steamroller.

Two men, a 33-year-old American and a 34-year-old Canadian, were arrested in Sydney during the sting that recovered 350kg of narcotics following a "complex and protracted" two-and-a-half-year investigation.

Police said they conducted a series of raids on five locations in the city over the weekend and recovered 235kg of methamphetamine and 115kg of cocaine stashed in the steamroller.

"At one location police recovered the road-roller as well as 13 sports bags inside it," Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner David Sharpe said.

"In the bags we recovered 350kg of controlled substances."

The Canadian appeared in court on Tuesday charged with a range of offences related to the importation of drugs. Bail was refused.

The American man was due in court on similar charges.

"We will allege that these are two significant figures in the syndicate and our inquiries are continuing in China, Canada as well as our investigations continuing in Australia," added Sharpe.

"But let me tell you, these are significant players in an international crime syndicate that has targeted Australia."

The bust was the second major success for Australian police within a week following the seizure of more than 200kg of cocaine from a yacht en route from Ecuador that washed up on a deserted island in the South Pacific with a badly decomposed body on board.

The drugs were worth up to US$120 million (HK$930 million), police said.

That case involved police in Tonga, the Cook Islands, Australia and the US Drug Enforcement Administration.