4 UK men arrested in Australian, N. Zealand drug seizures

SYDNEY — Australian police said Wednesday they made a major drug bust linked to an international syndicate, with four British men arrested after the seizure of vast quantities of MDMA powder and ice.

The interception of 766 kilograms (1,688 pounds) of MDMA in Queensland state is the third-largest such haul in Australia, with Australian Federal Police estimating its street value, when turned into ecstasy pills, at $90 million AUD ($61 million).

As part of the operation, 200kg (440 pounds) of methamphetamine, or ice, was seized by police in New Zealand.

In a statement, the AFP said two British men, 51 and 40, had been charged with drug possession and supply, while two other British men, 60 and 49, had been arrested in New Zealand. A 26-year-old Australian man has also been arrested.

Detective Superintendent Jon Wacker, from the Queensland police's drug squad, said the seizure had significantly affected Australia's ecstasy market.

"We believe the drug would have been diluted with other agents and had the potential to make between six and 12 million capsules," he said. "We believe that we certainly have disrupted this syndicate in the Pacific region."

Wacker said the seizure represented approximately 7% of the 1.1 tonnes (1.21 tons) of ecstasy consumed annually in Australia.

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