Australian police seize record $104 million heroin shipment


MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australian policed said on Saturday they seized the largest heroin shipment ever detected in the country, worth an estimated A$140 million ($104 million), and arrested a Malaysian national over the importation of the illicit drug.

The 450-kg (990-pound) shipment - as heavy as a grand piano - was detected in a sea freight container of ceramic tiles sent from Malaysia and addressed to a Melbourne business, the police said in a statement.

The police did not name the arrested man, a typical practice in Australia unless the police deem the identification of the suspect in the interest of a victim's family or the public.

The man was charged with importing and attempted possession of a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment, the police said.

The Australian Federal Police was working with the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP), said Krissy Barrett, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Southern Command.

"We continue to work together in identifying and disrupting transnational organised crime syndicates that seek to harm both our nations and generate millions of dollars of profits from criminal activity," Barrett said in a statement.

The police estimated the interception of the heroin saved 225 lives, based on their estimates that there was one death in the Australian community for approximately every 2 kilograms of heroin consumed.

($1 = 1.3475 Australian dollars)

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by William Mallard)

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