LOS ANGELES — A joint drug bust between Australian and U.S. authorities in mid-January resulted in a record 1.7 tons of methamphetamine being seized at Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport.
Customs and Border Protection announced the seizure of the three containers on Thursday, which were intended to be shipped to Australia before being searched on Jan. 11. The containers were filled with speakers “artfully” stuffed with the drugs.
In addition to the 3,810 pounds of meth, the shipment also contained 55.9 pounds of cocaine and 11.5 pounds of heroin. Australian officials said the total street value of the haul was $1.29 billion.
Australian police have arrested six people after what authorities say was the largest-ever single seizure of methamphetamine in the United States. Two of those arrested are Americans.
The Australian Federal Police and Victoria State police said those arrested in Australia on Thursday were tied to a US-based syndicate under investigation over the drugs.
Australian authorities said Friday the joint US-Australian operation had stopped “a tsunami of ice” from reaching Australia.
History of Methamphetamine:
Methamphetamine is not a new drug, although it has become more powerful in recent years as techniques for its manufacture have evolved.
Amphetamine was first made in 1887 in Germany and methamphetamine, more potent and easy to make, was developed in Japan in 1919. The crystalline powder was soluble in water, making it a perfect candidate for injection.
Methamphetamine went into wide use during World War II, when both sides used it to keep troops awake. High doses were given to Japanese Kamikaze pilots before their suicide missions. And after the war, methamphetamine abuse by injection reached epidemic proportions when supplies stored for military use became available to the Japanese public.
In the 1950s, methamphetamine was prescribed as a diet aid and to fight depression. Easily available, it was used as a nonmedical stimulant by college students, truck drivers and athletes and abuse of the drug spread.
This pattern changed markedly in the 1960s with the increased availability of injectable methamphetamine, worsening the abuse.
Then, in 1970, the US government made it illegal for most uses. After that, American motorcycle gangs controlled most of the production and distribution of the drug. Most users at the time lived in rural communities and could not afford the more expensive cocaine.
In the 1990s, Mexican drug trafficking organizations set up large laboratories in California. While these massive labs are able to generate fifty pounds of the substance in a single weekend, smaller private labs have sprung up in kitchens and apartments, earning the drug one of its names, “stove top.” From there it spread across the United States and into Europe, through the Czech Republic. Today, most of the drug available in Asia is produced in Thailand, Myanmar and China.
Both methamphetamine and dextromethamphetamine are illicitly trafficked and sold owing to their potential for recreational use. The highest prevalence of illegal methamphetamine use occurs in parts of Asia, Oceania, and in the United States, where racemic methamphetamine, levomethamphetamine, and dextromethamphetamine are classified as schedule II controlled substances. Levomethamphetamine is available as an over-the-counter (OTC) drug for use as an inhaled nasal decongestant in the United States.