Police in Australia say they unraveled a drug smuggling ring that used brassiere inserts, paint-by numbers kits and other items to conceal 720 liters (about 190 gallons) of liquid methamphetamine. But not everyone agrees on the drugs’ value.
More than a quarter of the seized meth was found “inside thousands of silicon bra inserts amongst the consignment of 86 boxes,” according to the federal police.
Announcing the bust, the Australian Federal Police’s Joint Organized Crime Group says that the drugs have “an estimated potential street value of more than a billion dollars.”
We’ll note that at today’s exchange rate, the $1.26 billion in Australian dollars that was cited by police is equal to about $900 million here in the U.S.
The official figure quickly drew scrutiny from critics, who say the police are valuing the drugs at a much higher rate than they have in the past.
Australia’s ABC network reports, “the AFP’s claim that the drugs were worth more than $1 billion is under scrutiny, with analysis of ice seizures publicized as recently as last month showing police are valuing Monday’s haul at nearly four times the price they have used following earlier raids.”
When pressed about how the seized drugs were valued, a police spokesman said the agency had used “a new ‘upper range’ method of calculating drug prices,” the ABC’s Lucy Carter reports.
Police also say that any value assigned to the drugs is now moot — because they won’t be hitting the streets for resale.
The drug bust follows a police operation focusing on how illegal drugs travel from Asia to Australia. Working with a variety of Australian agencies as well as Chinese authorities, investigators uncovered the drugs at storage facilities in four different cities.
The suspects include three Hong Kong nationals and one China national. If convicted, they could face lifetime prison terms.