Australian authorities are feeling pretty, pretty good about themselves this week, after they announced the arrests of four men who tried to smuggle almost $210 million worth of methamphetamine into the country by hiding it in bottles of Sriracha hot sauce.
According to 7News, more than 400 kilograms (880 pounds) of meth was placed in 768 bottles of the condiment, and those bottles were all boxed up and labeled with the sauce's signature rooster logo. The shipment was sent from the United States to Sydney, where it was inspected by the Australian Border Force (ABF) upon arrival. Those officers found "inconsistencies" with the cargo and they sent it for further analysis.
After the results came back marked "DEFINITELY METH" (or marked with a slightly more official designation), officers identified and arrested three men in connection with the shipment. Two of them, identified only as a 30-year-old and a 34-year-old, were picked up in a hotel parking lot in Sydney earlier this month; a search of their vehicle revealed eight boxes filled with Sriracha bottles, box cutters, moving bags, and gardening gloves. Twenty-six additional boxes of Sriracha were found in a hotel suite. A fourth man was arrested on Thursday morning.
"This has been a complex investigation and we know the methylamphetamine in this import was headed for a clandestine lab in the Sydney Metropolitan area for the extraction process to occur,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said in a statement.
“We will not stop with the arrests of these four men who are key members of the network. We will conduct further investigations with our law enforcement partners to identify other people linked to the group.”
One ABF official estimated that by seizing this shipment, the agency had kept four million doses of the drug off the streets. "This detection should serve as a warning to criminal groups that no matter how clever you think you are being in the way that you attempt to conceal and move your drugs, our officers have the skills, technology and the resources to find them and track down the people who are attempting to bring them in," Matt O’Connor, the Acting ABF Regional Commander for New South Wales, said.
Three of the men have been charged with "attempt to possess a commercial quantity unlawful import: border-controlled drug and large commercial drug supply." They were all refused bail during their first court appearances, and their next court dates have been set for mid-December. The fourth man—the one taken into custody today—was granted conditional bail and is due back in court on November 28.
Is no one else upset at how much Sriracha was wasted by these alleged smugglers? Because surely that warrants an extra couple of criminal charges.