Cypriot police were said to be zeroing in on a possible location in Limassol, where 645 kilos of ecstasy are believed to have been stashed inside barbeque grills that were exported and later seized by authorities in Australia.
According to local media, Limassol’s drug squad officials say they came across information that suggests a large shipment of MDMA out of Cyprus may have been put together on the island.
A warehouse in Limassol, which is linked to a 57-year-old male suspect in another drug case, is believed to have been the location where some 200 aluminium Cypriot barbeques, known colloquially as foukou grills, were equipped with false base plates concealing multiple packages of the drug.
Australian police, who had been tipped off by their Cypriot counterparts, swapped the ecstasy for another substance and put the delivery of the container under surveillance
The suspect was said not to be cooperating with police while another Limassol businessman, aged 30, was also detained. The local entrepreneur is thought to have been the person who exported the shipment to Sydney and is facing multiple charges including conspiracy, customs and excise violations, and supply and possession of drugs with intent to supply.
The shipment was seized on December 17 in Sydney after it had been transferred to another ship in Singapore.
Earlier this month, Australian Border Force (ABF) said it had charged a 30-year-old man from Queensland and a 33-year-old Canadian national over their involvement in the criminal enterprise.
The two men were arrested after Australian police, who had been tipped off by their Cypriot counterparts, swapped the ecstasy for another substance and put the delivery of the container under surveillance.
At well over half a tonne, the seized ecstasy was worth an estimated $61million in street value and was this year’s biggest shipment by weight seized in Australia.
The investigation, which took six months, also involved the United Kingdom National Crime Agency, according to Australian officials. It began after Cypriot police came across a suspicious consignment in a container after it had already departed Limassol port.