CANBERRA • Australian authorities have seized more than half a tonne of methamphetamine, commonly known as Ice, hidden in commercial refrigerators imported from Singapore.
The street value of the 585kg drug haul by law enforcement at the border is estimated to be more than A$438 million dollars (S$423 million), said Australian officials in a joint statement by the police and border authorities on Monday.
The container which arrived in Sydney was declared to carry electric ovens, but police at the city's Container Examination Facility on March 30 found 11 commercial refrigerators inside, reported ABC News.
When X-ray scans suggested inconsistencies in the make-up of the fridges, officers removed the back panels of seven of the appliances and discovered 561 packages of white crystalline substance, which were later found to be methamphetamine or meth.
The drugs have since been seized and a joint multi-agency investigation has commenced, reported DPA.
"It was a fairly crude import and disguised in a fairly basic manner," Superintendent Garry Low of the Australian Border Force was quoted as saying by ABC News.
He added that the shipment is the largest that has been seized in New South Wales this year "and obviously one of the largest that's ever been seized".
Following the drug discovery, police last Friday raided three Sydney addresses and seized documents and computers. No arrests have been made.
Authorities in the past have said Australia has a "serious epidemic" of drug use with an "insatiable demand" for illicit substances resulting in a record number of seizures and arrests in recent years.
In February, an analysis of waste water data found that people in Australia spent about A$9.3 billion dollars on illicit drugs in a year, largely on cocaine, heroin, Ecstasy and meth.
The most consumed drug was meth, a synthetic stimulant that comes in several forms, with the report saying an estimated 9.6 tonnes of meth was consumed in a year in Australia.