Australia seizes $1 billion of meth in its largest ever bust

SYDNEY Australia has seized more than A$1 billion (S$1.04 billion) of methamphetamine in its biggest bust of the highly addictive drug, police said yesterday.

Commonly known as Ice, the massive 1.2 tonne haul was intercepted after being offloaded from a ship, the Valkoista, which the authorities believe came from China.

Australia has the world's highest per capita consumption of crystal meth and the country has become an increasingly attractive destination for drug-smugglers, with street prices soaring.

Much of the Ice hitting its streets come from China and the Golden Triangle region, where the borders of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet.

Eight Australian men were charged with either importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, or possessing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

They face life in jail.

The seizure capped a six-month investigation with Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Leanne Close alleging the ringleaders had been taken out.

"It equates to probably about A$1b of border controlled drugs that are no longer going to be on the streets of Australia over the Christmas period," she said.

"Police will allege in court that these men intended to distribute the drugs along the east coast of Australia."

The Valkoista arrived at the port of Geraldton in Western Australia in the early hours of Thursday morning.

The drugs were allegedly loaded into a white van before tactical response officers swooped in, arresting three men inside.

Simultaneously, they boarded the boat and detained three crew members, with two others arrested at a hotel in Perth.

The previous biggest meth bust was 903kg, found in Melbourne earlier this year. - AFP