Australia, Indonesia police bust major drug ring

  • World
  • Thursday, 29 Jun 2006

By Jack Kim

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian and Indonesian police have disrupted the largest pseudoephedrine smuggling syndicate to ever target Australia, halting the manufacture of about A$71 million (US$52 million) worth of the drug methamphetamine. 

The syndicate allegedly imported more than 380 kgs (836 lb) of pseudoephedrine into Australia on six occasions from early 2005, the Australian Federal Police said in a statement on Thursday. 

The total drug haul could be made into more than 250 kgs (550 lb) of methamphetamine, which is used to make speed and ecstasy, said police. 

Australian customs officers initially uncovered A$22 million worth of pseudoephedrine tablets hidden inside a shipping container at Sydney's Port Botany after arriving from Jakarta on June 13. 

A joint Australian and Indonesian investigation uncovered another two million tablets in a shipping container on June 18. 

Three men and a woman were arrested in Sydney on Wednesday and charged over the alleged drug-smuggling operation and will appear in a Sydney court on August 30. 

"This operation has resulted in a major cross-border syndicate being dismantled," federal police agent Mike Phelan said in the statement. 

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