A huge haul of liquid meth was seized by Australian federal police after customs agents uncovered about $80.7 million of the drug hidden inside a shipment of cooking oil bottles sent from Mexico.
The slick drug-smuggling operation concealed the about 540kg of Mexican meth in a consignment of 9,360 canola oil bottles, which arrived in Melbourne on March 31.
Investigations are now underway to track down members of the illicit drug syndicate.
The haul is the second-largest liquid meth seizure in Victorian history, following a November 2020 bust flown in from Chicago, that netted 560kg.
Liquid meth is the number one illicit substance being smuggled across the American border from Mexico, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
The new tactic used by cartels is proving to be a huge challenge for law enforcement agencies around the world because the narcotic can be so easily disguised as other products such as oil, petrol, or even water.
When the dangerous drug makes it through customs, members of the syndicate simply use basic chemistry equipment to evaporate the solution and turn it back into crystals.
Forensic testing revealed that out of the two shipping containers of cooking oil that landed in Melbourne, only 269 bottles of the 9,360 actually contained meth, making the drug extremely difficult for Australian authorities to detect.
But Australian Border Force regional commander Craig Palmer said: ‘If criminal organisations have thought of it, chances are, we have seen it.
‘The ABF’s technical expertise and sophisticated technology means that we will find the drugs, regardless of the method of concealment.
‘Working together with law enforcement partners increases our reach so we can disrupt criminal activity like this one, to keep the community safe from harmful drugs.’