Drug Bust Uncovers $700 Million Worth of Methamphetamines in Art Supplies

Authorities say more than 500 liters was in the paint kits.

An example of a paint by numbers kit. Image: test.goodpaintbynumber.com.
An example of a paint by numbers kit.
Image: test.goodpaintbynumber.com.
Gel bra inserts and art supplies hid narcotics.<br>Photo via Australian Federal Police.

Gel bra inserts and art supplies hid narcotics.
Photo: Australian Federal Police.

Paint-by-numbers kits for children and gel bra inserts were hiding $700 million worth of liquid methamphetamine, said Australia’s Justice Minister Michael Keenan on Monday, following a drug bust.

Authorities charged three Hong Kong nationals and one Chinese national who are said to be part of a drug syndicate that is alleged to have imported 720 liters of methylamphetamine into New South Wales, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The drug is commonly referred to as “ice,” and authorities say the seizure amounts to 3.6 million doses of the drug. The bra inserts and art supplies came to Sydney from Hong Kong in December and had been in storage facilities since then.

Border Police officers stand next to a haul of crystal methamphetamine concealed in packaging at the Australian Federal Police headquarters in Sydney on February 15, 2016. Australian police have seized more than 712 million USD in crystal methamphetamine, or ice, some concealed in gel bra inserts in one of the country's biggest drug busts. Photo" SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images.

Border Police officers stand next to a haul of crystal methamphetamine concealed in packaging at the Australian Federal Police headquarters in Sydney on February 15, 2016. 
Photo: SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images.

CNN video of the seized art supplies shows acrylic medium bottles and boxed paint-by-numbers kits.

China’s Narcotic Control Commission assisted Australian federal police and customs officials in staging the bust. It all began when border officials at Sydney Airport identified a 33-year-old Hong Kong man whom they had classified as “high risk” as he entered Australia in November 2015 and notified the Australian Federal Police.

The drug has been known to induce psychosis in its users, and authorities say abuse of the drug can lead to violent crimes.

“Methylamphetamine poses—by far—the greatest threat to the Australian public of all illicit drug types, and by a significant margin,” said Australian Crime Commission NSW State Manager Warren Gray.


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