1600 Pounds of Mexican Cartel Meth Seized in Australia

File Photo: U.S. Border Patrol

Authorities in Sidney seized more than 1,600 pounds of methamphetamine connected to a Mexican cartel earlier this week.

A joint operation led by Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Border Force (ABF) resulted in the seizure of 755 kilograms of meth and the arrest of a Mexican national on a tourist visa. The drugs were discovered among untreated cowhides in a shipping container, an Australian Border Force media release explained.

The joint investigation began on August 13, when the shipping container declared as storing “Salty Bovine Skin Cuero Verde Salado De Bovino” was examined. A total of 18 pallets of frozen, raw and untreated cow skins hid 161 silver packages of a white crystalline substance. Forensic analysis concluded a methamphetamine match with an estimated street value of $566 million, which could have provided more than 7.5 million individual street deals.

The Mexican national was identified as Juan Manuel Plaza Lopez, 42. He is charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and attempting to possess a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs. According to authorities, the maximum penalty for the charges is life imprisonment. Plaza Lopez is allegedly tied to a Mexican drug cartel. This is the largest onshore seizure of methamphetamine originating from Mexico on record.

“These syndicates rely on human suffering at all stages of their activities; this occurs at the supply end in Mexico, through to the harm suffered by users and their families here in Australia. If you buy and use drugs, you are helping organized crime to flourish both overseas and here at home, every time you purchase a hit,” said Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs the Honorable Jason Wood.

According to media reports, this seizure is the fourth major haul of meth in the last three months in that country.

Robert Arce is a retired Phoenix Police detective with extensive experience working Mexican organized crime and street gangs. Arce has worked in the Balkans, Iraq, Haiti, and recently completed a three-year assignment in Monterrey, Mexico, working out of the Consulate for the United States Department of State, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Program, where he was the Regional Program Manager for Northeast Mexico (Coahuila, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Durango, San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas.) You can follow him on Twitter. He can be reached at robertrarce@gmail.com


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