Australia

Australia police arrest man over A$15.4m Darwin meth bust

Alleged drugs hidden inside refrigerator Image copyright NT Police
Image caption The substances were hidden inside refrigerators

Australian police have arrested a man over the discovery of 23kg (50lbs) of methamphetamines hidden inside fridges.

The drugs, with a street value of A$15.4m ($11.1m; £7.4m) were found inside 27 separate packages at the port of Darwin in November.

Police delivered the drugs to their intended destination in Sydney, from where they were collected by the 51-year-old suspect.

Australia is facing a methamphetamine - known as ice - epidemic.

Image copyright NT Police
Image caption Police shipped the consignment across country to Sydney where they made the arrest

Use of the highly addictive substance has doubled in less than a decade and there are now an estimated 200,000 users in the country.

The government says there were a record number of drug busts in 2013-2014 and 26,000 arrests for possession or distribution of amphetamine-type stimulants.

Last week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pledged A$300m in new funding to tackle the crisis, saying Australia "cannot arrest our way out of the ice problem - we must also work to reduce the demand for this drug".

The pledge included funding for education, addiction specialists and family support and for "significant investment" in rural services.

The detained man, who has not been named, was arrested in a police raid at his home in Sydney after he collected the consignment.

Supt Mark Setter of Australian Federal Police's Darwin office said the arrest had been "a complex operation" and praised the co-ordination of police departments.

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