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Nearly 650 Kilos Of MDMA Seized After It Was Smuggled In Barbecues

Two men have been charged after police found nearly 650 kilograms of MDMA hidden in 200 aluminium barbecues smuggled to Australia from Cyprus. 

The Australian Federal Police launched an investigation after a tip-off from Cyprus about the potential export of a large amount of drugs headed to Australia in July this year.

Police intercepted a shipment of barbecues on July 17 and found they had false bottoms, which were lined with packages of MDMA.

The drugs were seized and replaced with a replica, and officers monitored the shipment's eventual delivery to a warehouse in Matraville, Sydney, where it sat for more than three months.

Police allege the barbecues were gradually transferred to another warehouse at Smeaton Grange from October and a 30-year-old Coomera man allegedly travelled to Sydney and began to remove the MDMA from its hiding place, with the intent of preparing it for further distribution.

Police located 645 kilograms of MDMA in the false bottoms of aluminium barbecues (pictured). Image: AFP

On December 10, a 33-year-old Canadian man, who police allege acted as a liason for the criminal group who imported the drugs, arrived in Sydney.

Police claim he attended the warehouse at Smeaton Grange the next day.

The Canadian was arrested in Brisbane on Monday and charged with one count of aid, abet counsel or procure an imported border controlled drug contrary to sections 307.1, by virtue of 11.2(1), of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

The Coomera man was arrested in Sydney on Monday and charged with one count of attempting to possess a commercial quantity of an unlawfully imported border controlled drug, namely MDMA, contrary to sections 307.5(1), by virtue of 11.1(1), of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

Both men are facing maximum sentences of life imprisonment.

Pictured is some of the MDMA found inside the barbecues. Image: AFP

After the arrests, officers conducted search warrants at Bondi Junction, Surry Hills, Canley Heights, Tamoor and at the Smeaton Grange warehouse. A search warrant was also carried out at a home in Brisbane.

Police allegedly uncovered $300,000 in cash at the Bondi Junction and Canley Heights premises, and 3.5kg of cocaine at Canley Heights.

ABF Regional Commander for NSW, Danielle Yannopoulos, said in a statement importers should be more afraid of detection than ever.

"We have invested heavily in our technological capability in recent years, and our officers can see further into these containers than ever before,” she said.

“Just this year we’ve found illicit substances in professionally manufactured car parts, fridges, furniture, and even an excavator.

“My message to criminals is clear: reconsider. We will find these drugs and the penalties are very high.”