Mexican meth worth $273m hidden in hydraulic press

·2-min read

More than 300 kilograms of methamphetamine concealed deep inside a steel hydraulic press has been smuggled into NSW from Mexico.

The Australian Federal Police says the seized haul has an estimated value of more than $273 million and could have made up three million individual street deals.

The AFP is now trying to identify the transnational crime syndicate behind the elaborate importation that arrived by ship on April 18.

The suspicions of Australian Border Force officers were raised when they examined the consignment at the Container Examination Facility in Sydney because of the density of the steel.

When engineering experts drilled into the core of the hydraulic press they found a white substance deep inside the machinery which returned a positive result for meth.

When the machinery was pulled apart officers found 79 blocks of meth, secreted inside two lead-lined tubs - in an obvious bid to evade detection.

AFP Detective Sergeant Salam Zreika says only a well-established organised crime syndicate could have financed and managed such an elaborate scheme.

"Retrieving the drugs from this concealment in Australia would require significant resources, expertise and space, so someone in the community may have heard something that could help us to identify those involved locally," she said on Wednesday.

"This seizure shows the extremes that drug trafficking syndicates will go to in their bids to smuggle illicit drugs into Australia because of the profits they can make."

The AFP was working with law enforcement partners locally and overseas to investigate the origins of the drugs to identify the criminals behind the importation, she said.

"Methamphetamine causes immense harm. On average, 33 people were hospitalised each day in Australia for methamphetamine-related incidents in 2020-21."

ABF Inspector Marc Rea said regardless of whatever creative methods criminals dreamt up to bring drugs into Australia, the experience and expertise of ABF officers would detect consignments.

"In this case, even thick steel couldn't dampen the determination of our officers in locating the concealed methamphetamine deep inside the hydraulic press," he said.