Methamphetamine was found hidden in decorative stones awaiting shipment from the Amazon’s San Diego hub to Australia.
Ornamental stones, typically used in gardens and model railroads, were hidden in packaging labeled “Ornamental Stones,” according to US federal investigators.
Amazon and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) have found that at least five Amazon vendor accounts use the technology company’s international shipping services to trade meth around the world. Drug traffickers are moving “kilogram quantities of controlled substances,” Forbes reports.
On October 28, Kentucky Customs and Border Protection also found another parcel destined for Australia containing five kilograms of methamphetamine, ordered under a suspicious vendor account.
On Oct. 31, Amazon and HSI agents in Michigan discovered a labeled package claiming to contain used slate stones for toy railroads and flowerpots. Approximately six kilograms of stimulants were hidden.
According to the latest data on illicit drug consumption released by the Australian Crime Intelligence Commission in June 2022, Australia has the highest reported per capita use of stimulants in the world.
The South Pacific has become an increasingly lucrative drug corridor, driven by cartels, criminal syndicates, and local gangs, according to a February Lowy Institute report.
“The Pacific is a major transit route for drug and chemical precursor trafficking from Asia and South America to Australia and New Zealand, where consumers pay the highest prices globally,” the report said.
The illicit drug trade in Australia is estimated to be worth $11.3 billion (US$7.6 billion) annually, according to reports, and the drugs usually arrive by air. Alternative modes of transport are sea transport in containers and yachts, and light aircraft.
“Drug trafficking and trafficking in the Pacific is driven by five interconnected networks of actors: syndicates in China and Asia; cartels in Mexico and South America; organized crime in Australia; organized crime in New Zealand; Or hybrid indigenous drug gangs.
In August, authorities discovered two tons of meth hidden in marble tiles shipped to Sydney from the Middle East.
Three men were arrested after 1,649 pounds of drugs were found hidden in 24 containers that arrived at Sydney’s port of Port Botany earlier this month, officials said.