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Police Seize 1.8 Tons of Meth, Heroin Smuggled in Counterfeit Loudspeakers

By Clive Young. The meth bust, valued at $835 million U.S., is the largest in Australian history.

Melbourne, Australia (June 17, 2019)—The Australian Border Force has seized a cargo shipment of counterfeit Nexo loudspeakers used to smuggle nearly 1.8 U.S. tons of methylamphetamine and an additional 82 lbs. of heroin into Australia. The shipment, worth an estimated $835 million U.S., “is the largest meth bust we’ve ever seen in this country,” said ABF regional commander Victoria, Craig Palmer.

The drugs were shipped in pallets that appeared to contain Nexo loudspeakers, and ABF investigation photos show the drugs packed inside fake PS15-R2 loudspeakers. The shipment, which originated from Bangkok, Thailand, was pulled aside for additional inspection at the Melbourne Container Examination Facility; when it was x-rayed, “anomalies within the speakers” were detected, according to authorities. Once the shipment was taken apart, they discovered vacuum-packed bags of heroin and crystal meth, commonly referred to in Australia as Ice.

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Jean Mullor, CEO of Nexo, told Pro Sound News, “Nexo would like to point out these are not our products. The enclosures are clearly identifiable as Chinese copies of our famous PS design, cheaply available in Asia despite our ongoing attempts to combat counterfeiting. Without the audio components inside, these fakes can be regarded as nothing more than wooden boxes.”

Many pro-audio manufacturers have been fighting a rising tide of phony product in recent times, as evidenced by an Enping City, China factory raid in October, 2018 that uncovered fake Yamaha, Shure, Sennheiser and Harman gear being produced.

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For the ABF, the seizure represents a major win in Australia’s war on meth, as the shipment would have been broken down into roughly 16 million drug deals. According to Palmer, the drug bust “demonstrates not only the brazen nature of those involved in this criminal activity, but the resolve of the ABF in Victoria and around the country to stop these imports.” Last year, the ABF captured more than 13.2 U.S. tons of drugs across 43,000 detections, so the seizure is equal to more than 13% of the total drugs seized last year.

It’s not the first time smugglers have tried to use loudspeakers to get meth into Australia. In January, 2019, customs officials at the Port of Long Beach in California intercepted the United States’ largest meth shipment ever when they seized nearly 1.9 U.S. tons of the drug—worth an estimated $892 million U.S.—being exported to Australia, reportedly inside Audiobahn and Alphasonik enclosures.

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According to the Australian Crime Commission, the country is in the midst of an epidemic of Ice usage, fueled by organized crime. In 2015, the ACC reported that more than 60 percent of Australia’s highest risk criminal targets on the National Criminal Target List were involved in the illicit Ice market.