Australian police find drugs worth $163m in kayaks

A customs officer (C) and a police officer (R) inspect one of the 27 kayaks seized after Australian authorities found A$180m of methamphetamine stashed in kayaks from China in Sydney on 12 February 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The drugs were packed into kayaks that were shipped from China

Australian police say they have found drugs with a street value of A$180m ($163m; £99m) hidden in kayaks arriving from China.

The methamphetamine was packed into 19 out of 27 sea kayaks in a shipping container.

Five people, including four Taiwanese nationals, were arrested in Sydney, a joint police and customs statement said.

All five appeared in court on Wednesday on drugs charges and were denied bail.

The drugs were found earlier this month when customs officers at a Sydney facility X-rayed the container.

"This inspection revealed anomalies with the consignment of 27 sea kayaks," the joint statement from the Australian Federal Police and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service said.

"The examination revealed 19 of the 27 kayaks contained packages of a white crystallised substance. Initial testing of the substance returned a positive reading for methamphetamine."

The container was then delivered to a storage facility and the Taiwanese nationals were arrested after they "allegedly accessed the kayaks to retrieve the concealed substance".

The fifth man was later arrested at his home, police added.

The group face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

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