Australian Federal Police international partnerships lead to record 1.800-tonne liquid meth haul in HK

AFP and Australian Border Force in Hong Kong have worked with Hong Kong Customs and Excise (HKCE) to intercept a record-breaking 1.8 tonnes of liquid methamphetamine destined for Australia.

The illicit consignment was able to be identified based on intelligence developed by AFP officers in Mexico and the Australian Department of Home Affairs.

The international cooperation led HKCE to find the meth on 23 October, 2022, hidden in cartons of coconut water.

Ongoing investigations are underway to identify the transnational serious organised criminals involved in the plot to smuggle the illicit drugs – which had an estimated street value of AUD $1.62 billion or a wholesale value of AUD$540 million – into New South Wales.

The Mexican-based officers used their international network to alert AFP officers in Hong Kong about the suspicious consignment being shipped from Mexico to Australia via Hong Kong.

AFP Detective Superintendent Patrick Gordon, the AFP’s senior officer in Mexico, said organised crime operated across borders and so did law enforcement.

“The seizure demonstrated the importance of coordinated international action with our law enforcement partners to disrupt these attempts by organised crime to import illicit drugs into Australia and profit at the community’s expense,” he said.

“The harsh reality is that Australia’s problem of illicit drug use is bankrolling a raft of dangerous and brutal cartels, triads and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

“These criminals undermine our national security and our economy. They make our suburbs and roads less safe.

“This amount of meth could have been sold as about 18 million street level deals, so the NSW and Australian community is safer because these drugs were seized.

ABF Commander of International Operations, Chris Gower, said the seizure was a timely reminder that Australian agencies had an intelligence net that extended across the globe.

“We will always cooperate and work closely with our international partners to block and seize illicit drug consignments, breaking the business model of criminals and preventing further harm in the Australian community,” Commander Gower said.

“This is a significant seizure and a tangible example of international cooperation through intelligence gathering that shares a common purpose, to outsmart criminal syndicates and their illicit drug operations.”    

By ensuring those drugs did not reach the Australian community, the AFP and its partners saved the community about $737 million in drug-related harm, including associated crime, healthcare and loss of productivity.