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Police seize Australia's largest-ever haul of MDMA June 21, 2004 - 7:26PM
Ecstasy powder worth $68 million has been found sandwiched between sheets of pastry in what police say is Australia's largest haul of the drug.
The joint-agency operation recovered 340kg of MDMA powder which could have been converted into more than 1.3 million ecstasy pills.
Police have arrested three men and a woman allegedly trying to flee Australia.
On Friday, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Customs officials boarded a container ship in Sydney's Botany Bay, where they found the powder hidden between packaged wonton pastry sheets.
The ship had travelled from the Netherlands via the United States.
"This was an extremely sophisticated concealment, the like of which we've rarely seen before," Customs NSW regional director David Collins told reporters.
"The product was specifically manufactured to look like legitimate goods."
A Brisbane couple, Wingkai Keung, 54 and Amy Choekiyid Chin, 43, were arrested at Brisbane International Airport, allegedly trying to flee to Hong Kong.
The Australian residents, from Indooroopilly in west Brisbane, faced Brisbane's Magistrates Court where Chin wept in the dock before being granted bail on $100,000 bond.
Keung, her de facto husband, did not apply for bail and was remanded in custody.
Chin was ordered to hand in her passport and report daily to police.
Both are due to face court again on August 14.
In Sydney, Wai Kwan, 42 and Miller Liu, 40, were arrested at Sydney International Airport last night and faced Central Local Court today.
Neither applied for bail and both were remanded in custody to reappear on August 25.
The AFP worked closely with the Joint Asian Crime Group on the record seizure, using officers from NSW Police, the Australian Customs Service, the Australian Crime Commission and the NSW Crime Commission.
The AFP said the seizure would have a significant impact on syndicates involved in trafficking narcotics.
"Not only is it significant by Australian standards, that is significant by world standards," said Peter Drennan, the AFP's national manager for border and international networks.
NSW Police agreed, saying the seizure would dent local supply of the drug.
The seizure was an example of "transnational crime" so investigations would continue in the Netherlands, the United States and Australia until all involved were caught, NSW Detective Inspector John Lehmann said.
The previous biggest seizure of MDMA was about 170kg.
Customs Minister Chris Ellison applauded the work of all involved in the record seizure. "Our agencies believe that a well-organised criminal syndicate has been disrupted as a result of this seizure and these arrests," Senator Ellison said.
"This shows what can be achieved when agencies work together."
Quote: The joint-agency operation recovered 340kg of MDMA powder which could have been converted into more than 1.3 million ecstasy pills
Wow, unlike the DEA with their mushrooms the Aussies really are high rollers! >1.3 million doses still sounds alot like 250mg a pill.. Thats a quality OD. 125mg is right on the mark, so they made a factor 2 whoopsie instead of the DEA's factor 1.000
340kg of Ecstasy.. Over 10.000.000 hours of empathy, joy and understanding will be tossed in the incinerator.. Nothing to be proud of.