Canberra: The Australian Border Force (ABF) said on Monday that the police have seized the largest ever shipment of fentanyl, preventing more than 5 million doses of the deadly opioid hitting the streets.
The drugs were found hidden inside in an industrial wooden lathe sent from Canada that arrived in Melbourne in December 2021, dpa news agency quoted the ABF as saying in a statement.
ABF officers inspected the container in February and detected nearly 60 kg of powdered substances hidden inside military-style ammunition boxes concealed within a three tonne lathe.
Forensic officers identified 11.2 kg of pure fentanyl, equivalent to about 5.5 million potential lethal doses of 30 mg, and some 30 kg of methamphetamine, with an estimated street value of A$27 million ($18 million).
As little as 28 milligrams of the drug can be fatal, the ABF said.
Australian authorities said they had only ever detected illicit fentanyl importations in minor amounts, all less than 30 grams.
“This was a massive amount of Fentanyl,” ABF Commander Maritime and Enforcement South James Watson said.
“Fentanyl is an extremely toxic substance to handle as well as being a lethal drug to use. There is a fentanyl epidemic in many parts of the world today, resulting in thousands of deaths of users every year,” Watson added.
Australian Federal Police acting Commander Anthony Hall said it was known criminal syndicates worldwide were lacing illicit drugs with the synthetic opioid, creating a dangerous cocktail.
“People who use illicit drugs can never be certain what they are ingesting and this seizure highlights the potentially lethal game of Russian roulette they play. We don’t want to see Australia joining other countries in that deadly game.”