At least 16 people have been arrested in connection with a Dutch-Australian investigation into smuggling synthetic drugs from Pakistan and Congo to Australia and Belgium, the public prosecution department said on Tuesday.
The arrests, made last week, include a top Australian criminal investigator, said to have worked with the Dutch gang for more than a year on importing the chemical ephedrine, used to make highly-addictive methamphetamine.
In total, twelve people were picked up in the Netherlands, two in Australia, one in Thailand and one in Germany. The gang is said to centre on a man from Almere. Two of those arrested are reported to be his bodyguards. The Netherlands has asked for the extradition of the German suspect. The man arrested in Thailand is reported to be British.
According to Australian media reports, the gang attempted to smuggle enough of the chemicals to produce €73m-worth of highly addictive meth, also known as ice.
The public prosecution department says the first drugs seizure was made in May 2006 when 92 kg of ephedrine was found hidden in the boot of a car. That bust led police to Congo, Pakistan and Australia. One container of chemicals arrived in Australia in October 2007, a second shipment disguised as rice arrived in April this year, the department says.
The police raids in the Netherlands also turned up six guns and large amounts of money. The Dutch suspects have been remanded in custody for 14 days.
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