Media Release

Stopping rice turning to 'ice'

25 September 2013

Following one of the largest seizures of ephedrine in Australia’s history, Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, congratulated his department’s staff for the important role they played.

“A routine inspection of a consignment of rice from India by Department of Agriculture biosecurity officers in July has kept 274 kg of ephedrine off the streets,” Minister Joyce said.

“The joint operation between my department, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs) stopped the ephedrine from being used to manufacture crystal methamphetamine, or ‘ice’, and resulted in three people being charged in Australia.

“The end product would have had an estimated street value of up to $200 million,” Minister Joyce said.

“I am pleased and impressed to hear about this seizure.

“My department not only found the drugs but then worked collaboratively with Customs and the AFP at the border to ensure the offenders were arrested and charged.

“While the department’s focus is on safeguarding Australia from exotic pests and diseases my department is always watching for illegal activities and ready to share intelligence with other border agencies.”

The Department of Agriculture routinely check imports of commodities like rice for biosecurity risk material and reports any suspicious activity to other border agencies.

“This seizure demonstrated the cooperative approach border agencies take to combating illicit activity.

“Biosecurity checks, like this one, keep Australia’s biosecurity system strong and help us stay free from many of the pests and diseases present in other parts of the world, which has had significant economic, environmental and community benefits,” Minister Joyce said.