Australian Federal Police have announced that they have seized more than 5 million doses of fentanyl, the largest shipment of the opioid ever seized in the country.
Police said the drugs were hidden in an industrial machine, known as a lathe, which arrived at the Port of Melbourne in December 2021 from Canada.
They did not launch an investigation until February, when Australian Border Force officials found the drug haul, which included 11.2 kilograms of pure fentanyl and 30 kilograms of methamphetamine.
Fentanyl is a highly addictive sedative and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
“It is very unusual to find this type of drug in Australia that is not involved in medical use,” Acting Federal Police Commander Anthony Hall said during a media conference on Monday. “The seizure of 11 kilograms of fentanyl has caused great concern in the Australian community,” he added, among other things.
According to the press release, previously Australian authorities had detected only small shipments of fentanyl, of 30 grams or less, that had been illegally imported into the country.
At Monday’s briefing, Border Force Commander James Watson stressed the importance of the seizure given the amount of fentanyl detected.
“Usually we detect 1 gram or less of fentanyl, but to detect 11 kilograms of pure fentanyl is extraordinary,” Watson said, adding: “I see this as a total bastard act.”
When asked why the announcement was made now, months after the drug was seized and identified, Hall said one of the main goals was to “warn the community about the danger that fentanyl poses.”