In what is being called the biggest meth bust in the country's history, Australian authorities seized more than a billion dollars' worth of meth after discovering the super illegal substance tucked away inside gel bra inserts and various art supplies. "This largest seizure of liquid methylamphetamine to date is the result of organized criminals targeting the lucrative Australian ice market from offshore," Justice Minister Michael Keenan tells ABC News, adding that the bust was the result of a collaborative intelligence-gathering effort between Australia and China.
The bust's final haul, a brain-hurting 1.26 billion dollars (a little over 900 million in American dollars), will reportedly result in approximately "3.6 million hits of ice" being taken off Australian streets. Early Monday morning, Australian Federal Police confirmed to CNN that four people have been formally charged in connection with the bust. Initial arrests were made in Sydney in January, with all four suspects reportedly possessing a Hong Kong passport.
"This has been a very good day for Australian law enforcement and a very bad day for the organized criminals that [have been] targeting the Australian drug market," Keenan tells the Guardian. The country's meth usage rate, according to the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), is one of the highest in the world. In fact, the ACC reports that at least 400,000 people have used some form of meth in the past 12 months.
"Methylamphetamine poses, by far, the greatest threat to the Australian public of all illicit drug types, and by a significant margin," the ACC's Warren Gray said in a statement, CNN reports. Experts argue that, while general meth usage in the region has remained relatively the same over the past five years, usage of the crystal form had "markedly increased."