Australian officials inspect one of the 27 kayaks seized after Australian authorities found Aus$180 million worth of methamphetamine stashed in a consignment of kayaks from China, in Sydney, on February 12, 2014
SYDNEY (AFP) - Authorities in Australia have seized Aus$180 million (US$162 million) of methamphetamine stashed in a consignment of kayaks from China and arrested four Taiwanese nationals, police said Wednesday.
The 183-kilogramme (402-pound) haul was discovered during a joint Australian Federal Police and Customs and Border Protection Service operation at Sydney's container port.
Border officers selected a container from China for X-ray inspection which revealed that 19 of the 27 kayaks inside contained packages of methamphetamine, or crystal meth.
Police then conducted a controlled delivery of the container to a storage facility in Sydney, and on Tuesday arrested three men and one woman - all Taiwanese - after they allegedly went to pick up the drugs.
A fifth person, an Australian, was arrested at his home.
"This is a great example of authorities working together to identify and disrupt criminals who are seeking to import drugs into Australia," said the Federal Police's Sydney chief commander Ray Johnson.
"The police and its partner agencies will continue to stop these harmful drugs from reaching our streets and affecting our neighbourhoods and communities."
Customs regional director Tim Fitzgerald said that in the past 14 months officials had seized more than 1,000 kilograms of meth in liquid and crystal form, with a significant amount of it coming from China.
David Alton, 32, and Taiwanese woman Lin Chieh-Wei, 28, were each charged with one count of attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
The other three Taiwanese, Kuo Chien-Chih, 21, Shih Meng-Chih, 30 and Zhao Xiung, 35, were charged with one count each of possessing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
All five were refused bail when they appeared in a Sydney court on Wednesday. They face a maximum penalty of life in jail if convicted.