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Thai authorities are investigating the possible involvement of Thais in the smuggling of four tonnes of ephedrine – a drug precursor chemical – worth about Bt87 billion from Thailand to Australia, said Sirinya Sitthichai, chief of the Office of Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) on Tuesday.
Sea cargo including the haul was confiscated in Sydney earlier this month as part of a joint investigation by Australia and Thailand under the code name Task Force Storm, which began with information from Thai authorities about suspected large-scale imports of drugs into Sydney.
The task force was formed in May last year to combat crime syndicates and drug trafficking in Southeast Asia.
Sirinya said that Thais were suspected to be involved because the ship started its journey in Thailand.
The ephedrine was found hidden in green tea bottles.
The haul was the largest seizure of drug precursor chemicals at the Australian border. The latest haul was 1.4 tonnes four months ago.
Sirinya said the source of the ephedrine was a neighbouring country of Thailand, and the drugs were smuggled into Thailand.
The Australian Broadcasting Company reported recently that officers examined consignments at the Sydney Container Examination Facility and detected a shipment with more than 1,000 cartons filled with bottles of iced tea.
Approximately one third of the cartons returned a positive reading for liquid ephedrine, which is used to manufacture methamphetamine.
Two people, a Chinese-Australian dual national and an Australian man, were arrested during the raid.