Australia takes down drug ring with ties to Spain

Sydney, Mar 22 (EFE).- Australian police dismantled a drug trafficking ring with ties to Spain and other European countries, while seizing 117 kilos (258 pounds) of MDMA, which is used to make ecstasy, authorities said Friday.

The confiscated drug could have produced up to 1.37 ecstasy pills with a street value of $54 million (42 million euros), according to a communique from the Australian Federal Police.

The investigation, which began 18 months ago, led to the arrest Thursday of three people in Australia and the issuing of arrest warrants in Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands, as well as the seizure of thousands of dollars in cash.

Another suspect was detained in Britain, though when that occurred was not specified, and up to now no Spaniards have been arrested in the operation, Australian police officials told Efe.

Cops detained a 32-year-old woman in Melbourne and a man, 38, in Sydney, both accused of importing part of the MDMA camouflaged in bottles of olive oil from Spain.

If found guilty, they could be sentenced to life imprisonment.

Australian security forces thanked their British, Belgian, Dutch and Spanish counterparts for their cooperation.

The operation demonstrated that police continue to disrupt "sophisticated criminal enterprises involved in the importation of illicit drugs," AFP Brisbane office manager Mark Walters said.