AFP seizes 50kg of ice in Sydney
Sydney's supply of ice could be slashed after a massive bust in which $20 million worth of the drug was found in car parts imported from China.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) on Thursday seized 50kg of the drug, also known as crystal methamphetamine, after two men allegedly took possession of the shipment.
Police allege the drug smuggling was the work of a highly-organised crime group set to make similar deliveries of 50kg to Australia every month - half of the 100kg they believe is consumed in Sydney each month.
The two men arrested on Thursday - Wai Kit Yip, 31, and Fung Yik Lam, 47, faced court on Friday on drug trafficking charges.
"We would be alleging that these people are very high up in this organised crime group and we are very confident that we have disrupted and dismantled this organised crime syndicate," AFP Sydney office manager Commander David Stewart told reporters on Friday.
Aided by a solicitor and Cantonese interpreter, the two men appeared in Sydney's Central Local Court.
Neither applied to be released from custody and Magistrate Allan Moore formally refused bail until April 7.
Yip, from Hong Kong, whose address was given to the court as Parramatta, was arrested at Sydney Airport on Thursday trying to leave the country.
Lam, from China, whose residence was listed as Sydney's Holiday Inn, was arrested at a warehouse at Glendenning in Sydney's northwest.
The drugs were delivered to the warehouse on Thursday after arriving in Melbourne nine days earlier.
It's alleged the pair removed the drugs from the car parts.
A short time later, search warrants were executed at an apartment in Chatswood, a hotel in Sydney's CBD and a residence at St Leonards, as well as three Melbourne addresses.
"It is estimated the 50kg of crystal methamphetamine seized yesterday is valued at approximately $20 million," Mr Stewart said.
"This quantity of methamphetamine is capable of producing about 50,000 street deals."
The bust-up of the drug importation syndicate is expected to make a significant dent in Sydney's ice supply, with police estimating that the amount seized on Thursday is equal to roughly half the city's monthly consumption.
"It's difficult to say what our usage rate is ... but there is some data ... that says about 100kg a month (is used) in Sydney," Australian Crime Commission Sydney manager Warren Gray told reporters during Friday's news conference.
The maximum penalty for trafficking commercial quantities of methamphetamine is life imprisonment.
KATELYN CATANZARITI AND ANDREW DRUMMOND
January 22, 2010
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