Police in Australia have busted four people after they allegedly tried to sneak more than 880 lbs of methamphetamine into the country using Sriracha-branded bottles of hot sauce.
The drugs were discovered after officials with the Australian Border Force (ABF) targeted an air cargo shipment from the United States that was declared to have several hundred bottles of the hot chili sauce. However, after ABF officials examined the cargo, they noticed inconsistencies with the shipment, discovering that all 768 bottles of the Sriracha Hot Sauce actually contained large amounts of meth, or ice as it's known in Australia, that had an estimated street value of more than $200 million U.S. dollars.
The shipment was seized by authorities and detectives set out to uncover the suspects involved. After a subsequent investigation, detectives executed a search warrant at a hotel suite where police discovered another 26 boxes of the Sriracha and four mobile phones.
"This has been a complex investigation and we know the methylamphetamine in this import was headed for a clandestine lab in the Sydney Metropolitan area for the extraction process to occur," State Crime Commander Stuart Smith said in a statement.
Police arrested three men in their 30s who were reportedly involved in the smuggling ring earlier this month on Oct. 20. On Thursday, police arrested a fourth suspect, who was identified as a 45-year-old man. All four suspects were reportedly "key members" of the smuggling network and authorities say the investigation to identify other members continues.
"This detection should serve as a warning to criminal groups that no matter how clever you think you are being in the way that you attempt to conceal and move your drugs, our officers have the skills, technology and the resources to find them and track down the people who are attempting to bring them in," said Matt O'Connor, the acting Australian Border Force regional commander for NSW.
All four suspects have been charged with attempt to possess a commercial quantity unlawful import: border-controlled drug and large commercial drug supply.
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