Australian police seize drugs smuggled in road-roller

The road-roller in which the drugs were concealed, in image released on 21 November 2012
Image caption The road-roller arrived in Australia from China in September

Australian police say they have seized drugs worth almost a quarter of a billion dollars smuggled from China inside heavy machinery.

Police seized 235kg of methamphetamine and 115kg of cocaine with an estimated value of A$237m ($246, £154m) in the operation in Sydney.

The drugs came into the country concealed in a road-roller.

Two men, an American and a Canadian, have been charged in connection with the case.

The seizure followed a "complex and protracted" police investigation that began in May 2010 targeting "an international organised crime syndicate", a police statement said.

"On 21 September 2012 the AFP (Australian Federal Police) identified a shipping container arriving in Australia, from China into Port Botany," David Sharpe of the Serious and Organised Crime Unit told a news conference.

"A search of this container identified a 20-tonne road-roller inside. On 17 November the AFP executed five search warrants across Sydney. At one of the search warrants, executed on a storage unit in a northern Sydney suburb, the AFP recovered the 20-tonne road-roller as well as 13 sports bags."

The bags contained a total of 350kg of drugs, he said.

It is the second major seizure announced by Australian police this month.

Last week, police said 200kg of cocaine with a value of A$116m had been found on a grounded boat off the coast of Tonga, following a joint operation with the US, Tonga and the Cook Islands.

"We will never disrupt every organised crime syndicate impacting on Australia," Mr Sharpe said.

"But we certainly, as you'll see in the last week with two major seizures... we will continue to target these organised crime syndicates with all the resources available to us."

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