Four Britons have been arrested as police seized £50.7 million worth of MDMA in a huge drugs bust targeting a UK organised crime syndicate in New Zealand and Australia.
Queensland Police said its officers seized 766kg of MDMA powder, which was the highest purity ever recorded in the region and could have made up to 12 million pills.
The drugs haul had an estimated value of 90 million Australian dollars (£50.7 million), with the police swoop amounting to one of the region’s biggest ever busts, the force said.
It added that the MDMA seizure represented about 7 per cent of the national yearly total in Australia.
Police in the state arrested two British men, a 51-year-old man and a 40-year-old man, as well as a 26-year-old Australian man, in the large-scale operation on Tuesday.
A 51-year-old Australian woman was also arrested in New South Wales in connection with the seizure of approximately 108,000 Australian dollars (£61,000) in cash.
Two other British men, aged 60 and 49, were arrested by police in New Zealand after 200kg of methamphetamine was seized last week as part of the same operation.
“We believe the drug would have been diluted with other agents and had the potential to make between six and 12 million capsules,” Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker, of Queensland State Crime Command’s Drug and Serious Crime Group, said.
“Organised crime syndicates are making significant profit at the expense of our Australian community but more importantly they are placing our young people’s health at risk.
“This operation has been focused on targeting and dismantling this organised syndicate.”
The UK’s National Crime Agency was involved in the investigations, alongside police in Australia and New Zealand, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) and other agencies.
Dr Katie Willis, from the ACIC, said it was estimated that more than 1.1 tonnes of MDMA is consumed in Australia each year.
“Removing 766kg of MDMA before it reaches our streets will have an immeasurable impact on the illicit MDMA market,” she said.