Drug gangs behind the flood of mainland-produced crystal meth being shipped through Hong Kong to Australia seem to be trying to expand their trade in the country. A top regional United Nations drug official expressed concerns over a “steady supply” of meth targeting both Australia and New Zealand. His comments came as charges were filed against 14 people, including eight Chinese nationals, following the seizure of some 200 kilograms of methamphetamine – also known as meth or Ice – worth approximately A$200 million (HK$1.15 billion) on the west coast of Australia last month. If put on the market, the quantity could have equated to more than two million individual doses. This was the biggest meth seizure in Western Australia this year, and also the largest since the seizure of more than 320 kilograms of the substance in September 2015. According to the regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Jeremy Douglas, Australian authorities have reported that mainland China is the main source of meth and Hong Kong is used as a transhipment point. He noted that trafficking syndicates have their sights set in Australia and New Zealand. “Without knowing what the trafficking groups are planning, we doubt they are more focused on Western Australia compared to other parts of Australia or New Zealand,” Douglas said. “There have been quite a few very large meth seizures over recent months at the Australian border, and just over a week ago in New Zealand, and it is clear organised crime from the region is moving a steady supply towards both countries,” he described. Australian police seized over A$1 billion worth of meth from a shipment from Asia of silicon bra inserts and art supplies in February. The bust was one of the biggest in Australia’s history and the largest seizure of liquid meth ever. It is not hard to understand why these countries attract the attention of drug dealers, as the price per kilo of crystal in Australia and New Zealand is the highest in the world. The latest major operation in Western Australia, by the Western Australia Joint Organised Crime Task Force, began on April 27, following the detection of a suspect commercial fishing boat off the coast, near Geraldton. Eight Chinese nationals aged between 37 and 56 and six Malaysian nationals were charged late last month with commercial drug importation offences. The eight Chinese citizens were the crew of the fishing boat. According to Australian authorities, it will be alleged in court that the people charged were part of an organised criminal syndicate, which facilitated the transport of the drugs from the fishing boat to Western Australia. The maximum penalty for these offences in Australia is life imprisonment. Western Australia Police Deputy Commissioner Gary Dreibergs said that such a quantity of meth could have caused immense harm in the country. The Australian Border Force has also intercepted several smaller parcels from China sent to residences in Australia in recent days. Last week, authorities busted 20kg of ephedrine, one of meth’s main ingredients, concealed in hair brushes coming from China and addressed to a residence in New South Wales.