Police have detained a 30-year-old Cypriot businessman in connection with hundreds of ecstasy-filled barbecue kits shipped from Limassol and seized by Australian authorities earlier this week and have a issued an arrest warrant for a second suspect who is currently in custody for a separate case.
The 30-year-old was expected to be brought before court on Saturday. The second suspect, 57, is currently in custody over a separate drugs-related case.
The 30-year-old is the registered owner of the company through which the barbecues, holding 645 kilos of ecstasy, had been shipped to Australia.
The man is suspected of arranging the importation of the drugs and then shipping them to Sydney where they were seized.
On Tuesday, Australian authorities announced the arrest of two men — a 30-year-old man from Queensland and a 33-year-old Canadian national — for allegedly smuggling the barbecues.
The arrests followed a six-month investigation spanning three countries. The case involves British nationals living in the UK, Cypriots and Australians.
On searching the container from Cyprus, Australian police found 200 aluminium barbecues, many with false base plates concealing multiple packages of the drug.
The case began in July when Cyprus’ drug squad tipped off their Australian counterparts about a potential large shipment of MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, in a container shipping from Limassol and bound for Sydney.
The investigation also involved the United Kingdom National Crime Agency.
Officers swapped the MDMA for an inert substance and delivered the barbecues to a warehouse in Sydney, where it sat for more than three months.
Starting in late October, the barbecues were gradually shipped to another warehouse, also in Sydney, where the Australian suspect began to prepare the drugs for distribution.
The Canadian suspect arrived in Sydney last week to visit the warehouse and was arrested in Brisbane on Monday. He is believed to have acted as a liaison for the criminal group responsible for importing the MDMA.