Police question 57-year-old in BBQ drugs probe

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Cyprus police are questioning a 57-year-old man in connection with the Australian drug bust where 645 kilos of ecstasy was found in Cypriot-made barbecues.

It is the largest quantity of drugs in a single case involving Cyprus. The suspect, believed to be involved in the case, is already in custody over a separate drugs-related case.

The drug bust in Sydney involved a large cargo of ecstasy hidden in 200 Cypriot-made barbecues (aka foukou). The cargo was seized in Sidney after intelligence received from Cyprus police alerting it had left Limassol port in the summer.

The 57-year-old is in custody at the Central Prisons awaiting trial for his involvement in the 85kg of cannabis found in a container in Ipsonas, Limassol earlier this year.

Australian police have already arrested two men for allegedly trafficking 645 kilos of ecstasy hidden inside 200 Cypriot barbecues with fake base plates, the culmination of a six-month investigation spanning three countries, Cyprus, Australia and the UK. Both suspects were arrested last week and are facing a life sentence if found guilty.

The arrest warrant against the 57-year-old, in connection to the Sydney bust, was issued when investigations into the case involving the 645kg of ecstasy revealed evidence that the suspect is linked to the company which allegedly shipped the ecstasy to Australia.

The 30year-old owner of the Cyprus company which shipped the cargo has been remanded in police custody. He is suspected of also importing the ecstasy to Cyprus.

An Australian and a Canadian citizen, aged 30 and 33, were also arrested by Australian authorities on charges of trafficking AUD 25 mln worth of ecstasy shipped to Australia in a container aboard a ship from Limassol.

The confiscation of the 645kg ecstasy is the largest quantity of this type of drug seized in 2019 in Australia, and also the largest quantity of drugs in a case involving Cyprus.

Australian police had seized and swapped the MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, for an inert substance and delivered the barbecues to a warehouse in Sydney, where they stayed for more than three months in late October.

The aluminium barbecues were gradually shipped to another warehouse, also in Sydney, where the Australian suspect began preparing drugs for distribution.

Cyprus Police boasted their contribution to the bust as they had tipped off Australian authorities of a potential large shipment of ecstasy in a container from Limassol and bound for Sydney. The investigation also involved the UK National Crime Agency.

Cypriot authorities believe more people are involved including Cypriots and British nationals.