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Australian police seize world record five million ecstasy pills

04/15/2005 11:38 PM
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Australian police seize world record five million ecstasy pills
Australian police seize world record five million ecstasy pills

Fri Apr 15, 3:56 AM ET Asia - AFP

SYDNEY, (AFP) - Australian authorities have seized some five million ecstasy tablets and arrested four men in what they said Friday was the biggest ever haul of the party drug anywhere in the world.

AFP/Australian Federal police Photo

The four men were arrested Thursday and early Friday in Melbourne after federal police and customs officials discovered more than a tonne of ecstasy hidden in a shipment of ceramic tiles from Italy, a police spokeswoman told AFP.

"This seizure has prevented approximately five million street-ready ecstasy pills from being sold and is the world´s biggest ever single detection," Justice and Customs Minister Chris Ellison said.

"The record haul reflects the growing challenge of amphetamine-type stimulants represents and sends a clear message to drug traffickers that they will be caught," he said.

Police said the ecstasy, or MDMA, a psychedelic stimulant commonly used at dance parties, had a street value of more than 250 million dollars (190 million US).

The Australian Federal Police said investigations were continuing into the international ring responsible for smuggling the ecstasy.

"The AFP is now working with its counterparts in Italy and other parts of Europe to identify any overseas links with this latest seizure," said Federal Agent Mike Phelan.

Phelan said the haul was the result of "a complex and intelligence-led investigation" which began in January and led police and customs officers to search a shipping container that arrived in Melbourne´s port from Italy earlier this week.

A giant X-ray machine was used to locate the ecstasy tablets hidden in cavities among the ceramic tiles.

Police monitored the shipping container until it was delivered on Thursday to a suburban Melbourne factory, where two men were arrested as they tried to collect the drugs, officials said.

Agents then searched a dozen homes and businesses across Melbourne and arrested two more men early Friday, they said.

All four suspects were due to appear in court Friday charged with importing commercial quantities of a prohibited substance. The four face a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Phelan said the size of the ecstasy haul underscored the high demand for the party drug in Australia despite evidence its use can be lethal.

"Over the past two years the AFP has seen a dramatic increase in the importation of ecstasy into Australia," he said.
Anonymous Coward
12/08/2005 10:07 AM
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Re: Australian police seize world record five million ecstasy pills
a sad day for all us Australianscry