Australia seizes record 1.8 tons of crystal meth at port

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Australian officials have seized the nation's largest haul of methamphetamine at the Melbourne waterfront, nearly 1.6 metric tons (1.8 tons) of the illegal drug hidden in stereo speakers shipped from Bangkok, authorities said Friday.

The Australian Border Force said the drugs were in a form known as crystal meth, or ice, and were seized along with 37 kilograms (82 pounds) of heroin. They had an estimated street value of 1.2 billion Australian dollars ($835 million) and AU$19 million ($13 million) respectively, it said in a statement.

Police have yet to make an arrest, it said.

ABF Regional Commander Craig Palmer said the seizure would have a significant impact on the supply of the drug in Victoria state.

"This is the largest meth bust we've ever seen in this country and demonstrates not only the brazen nature of those involved in this criminal activity, but the resolve of the ABF in Victoria and around the country to stop these imports," he said.

Australia is increasingly being targeted by international drug cartels because of its relatively high prices for illegal drugs. Illicit drugs other than marijuana had been seen as primarily a problem of large cities, but ice is now having a devastating effect on regional and rural communities.

Thai deputy police spokesman Col. Krissana Pattanacharoen said police in Bangkok had just received reports of the drug seizure and were ready to cooperate with Australian police.

A U.S. State Department report this year said Thailand is not a major producer of illegal drugs but is a destination and a transit point for trafficking.

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