BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thai authorities have seized crystal methamphetamine with a street value of almost $30 million stuffed inside boxing punch bags bound for Australia, officials said on Thursday.
Customs officers inspected the shipment after growing suspicious of the Thai-made training equipment which is not in high demand in Australia, Thai and Australian officials investigating the matter told a news conference in Bangkok.
More than 193 kg (425 lb) of the drugs, also known as ice, were hidden among 15 different bags.
Surrounded by cameras, a Thai customs official sliced through a long cardboard box and then the red outer layer of the boxing punch bag, exposing the drugs hidden amongst the stuffing.
“Australia consumes around 11 tons of methamphetamine per year,” Australian Border Force Acting Superintendent Joel Carruthers said. “So there’s a market for it, and disrupting it offshore in countries such as Thailand is fantastic.”
Methamphetamine production in Southeast Asia’s Golden Triangle – a border region between Thailand, Laos and Myanmar – has been increasing sharply in recent years, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
(Reporting by Vorasit Satienlerk and Jiraporn Kuhakan; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Andrew Heavens)