CAREFUL planning by three thieves carrying sledgehammers has enabled them to make off with pharmaceutical drugs that carry a potential street value of $43 million.
The drugs, 50 kilograms of pseudoephedrine and 67 kilograms of codeine, were stolen from an industrial unit in Kingsgrove in the early hours of Sunday.
Pseudoephedrine is used in clandestine labs to manufacture methamphetamine, most commonly known as speed or ice.
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Australian Federal Police estimated a seizure of 12.5 kilograms of pseudoephedrine from Malaysia could be used to manufacture more than 200,000 doses of speed. The weekend's theft was four times that amount. Police do not know how the balaclava-clad trio made their way into the Jalco Pharmaceuticals complex on Garema Circuit at 1am on Sunday. The brick building is surrounded by a tall fence with barbed wire and security cameras.
Once inside, the thieves cut the phone lines and tampered with the alarm. It allowed them to take almost two hours to smash their way through a concrete wall into the building's strongroom.
The drugs were stored inside the room in 60-centimetre high cylinders that contained 25 kilograms of the substances in each.
The theft was reported to police at 3pm the same day, 12 hours after security footage shows the robbers leaving the building. Campsie Acting Inspector Michael Stewart said it was not a random robbery and the level of planning showed the thieves knew the drugs were inside.
Dr David Bright, from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre's drug policy modelling program, said it was almost certain the motivation for the theft was to turn pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine.
March 8, 2011
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