SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian police said on Friday they had seized a record 1.2 tonnes of methamphetamine with a street value of more than A$1 billion ($771 million) after a raid in a remote area of the west Australian coast.
Eight Australian men were charged with offences carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, police in Western Australia state said in a statement.
“We are striking at the top end of drug trafficking before it gets further down the distribution chain,” Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said.
The drugs were collected from a ship called the Valkoista, police said, and were then offloaded into a white hire van at a dock in Geraldton, about 375 km (230 miles) north of the Western Australia capital, Perth.
Tactical police intercepted the van as it reversed away from the dock.
Police arrested the van’s three occupants, all from the eastern Australian state of New South Wales. Three others were arrested on the Valkoista and the remaining two were charged in Perth.
Police said they suspected the drugs were destined for Australia’s more populous east coast.
Reporting by Elouise Fowler in SYDNEY; Editing by Jonathan Barrett and Paul Tait