Video: Australian Police Find Stash of MDMA on a Ro/Ro

Door panel filled with bags of drugs
Courtesy ABF

Published May 23, 2024 10:56 PM by The Maritime Executive

Australia's federal authorities are asking for the public's help in tracking down the importers of 120 kilos of raw MDMA (Ecstasy) that inspectors found aboard a ro/ro earlier this year. 

In mid-February, Australian Border Force officers searched a ro/ro that had just arrived in Western Australia from Europe. It had a consignment of 105 new Peugot commercial vans on board, and a drug dog found narcotics concealed in the sliding door panels of six vehicles. The ABF estimated the value of the shipment at about US$4.3 million, or roughly US$36,000 per kilo.

"Clearly there are people in Australia who know who organized this importation and who the intended recipients were," said AFP Acting Commissioner Peter Hatch in a statement. "The criminal distributors would have likely combined the MDMA with other substances before turning the drugs into pills using a pill press. Criminals don't care if they add other harmful substances to the illicit drugs to make the pills."

Hatch appealed to the public for any information about the identity of the importers. 

As of 2019, Australia had the second highest rate of MDMA use in the world (per capita). Australia is a major target market for criminal smuggling syndicates, as demand is strong and consumers are willing to pay high prices for illegal drugs, particularly cocaine. Last year, a national survey found that five percent of Australians used cocaine at least once within 2022-23, and about 13 percent said that they had used it at least once in their lifetime, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Wellness. 

Just last month, Australian authorities arrested the alleged ringleader of a domestic organized-crime network that attempted to import up to 20 tonnes of cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin. 

"Every time someone buys cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine in Australia, they are funding organized crime gangs who are responsible for violence here and around the world," said AFP Superintendent Adrian Telfer last month.