An elderly Australian couple was surprised to receive a package they weren’t expecting, and considerably more shocked when they opened it up and found 20 kilograms (roughly 45 pounds) of methamphetamine, CNN reports.
The unnamed Werribee couple says that they called the police when they opened up the mystery box and found that it contained “a white substance.” When police turned up, they confirmed that it was meth. Specifically, officers found approximately $10 million Australian worth ($7 million USD) of the prohibited substance.
Detective Acting Senior Sargent Matthew Kershaw said, via 9 News, that a huge mistake appears to have been made.
“When you think about it, $10 million worth of drugs sent to the wrong address, that’s quite incredible to comprehend that someone could be that sloppy.”
Police later determined that the intended address was in a nearby town, Bundoora. When they raided the address, they allegedly found another 20 kilograms of meth. Police then arrested Zhiling Ma and charged him with importing a marketable quantity of a border controlled drug.
As Yahoo News Australia reports, Ma doesn’t speak English very well and, at his court appearance, largely failed to understand what was happening. When told he would have to return for a “committal mention,” he asked the court what that meant — it’s a hearing to determine if a suspect will remain jailed. For further court appearances, Ma will have an interpreter present.
As The Guardian reported in 2018, meth, or “ice” as it’s known in Australia, has become the street drug of choice in the Land Down Under. Between August 2016 and August 2017, according to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s National Wastewater Drug Monitoring Program report, Australians consumed 1.2 tons of MDMA (Ecstasy), three tons of cocaine, and more than 1,500 pounds of heroin.
It was also noted that Australians consumed nearly eight tons of meth — more than all other illicit drugs combined. Federal law enforcement official Angus Taylor called the observation “extraordinary.”
“That’s extraordinary consumption. We know we have a very serious issue with methamphetamines.”
So bad is the problem of meth abuse in Australian’s rural regions that in one town, Dwellingup, so many of the few hundred or so people who live there were addicted to meth that the town was basically “ungovernable.”
Until a decade ago, most Australian meth was produced locally. However, now the majority is imported. Taylor speculates that the country’s sparsely-populated west coast makes it attractive for international drug traffickers.
“It’s now being imported through major, very well organized, very sophisticated global criminal networks and that’s why our strategy now has to be not just border interception but disruption of those business models,” he said.