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Australian authorities seize 'liquid ecstasy'; further arrests not ruled out

Timoci Vula
Sunday, March 04, 2018

Update: 3:45PM AUSTRALIAN Federal Police and the Australian Border Force last month seized what is believed to be one of the country's largest seizures of the drug gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) - commonly referred to as liquid ecstasy, fantasy, or 'coma in a bottle'.

The operation began in early February this year when ABF investigators received information and identified a high-risk shipping container arriving into Sydney. 

Police said the consignment contained 120 drums, each with a capacity of 200litres. 

During a physical examination, ABF officers at the NSW Container Examination Facility identified 10 drums that had a number of anomalies. Presumptive testing of the liquid in the 10 drums, labelled as car pre-painting wash, returned a positive result for GBL totalling an approximate volume of 2000litres.

The matter was referred to the AFP for further investigation and subsequent crime scene analysis by AFP forensic specialists confirmed the positive result.

A joint AFP and ABF statement said that further forensic analysis would be conducted to determine the exact volume and purity of the liquid.  

It stated that it was estimated this volume of GBL could have a potential street value of approximately AUS$10million.

AFP State Manager NSW Commander Chris Sheehan said while some people believed GBL was a harmless 'party drug', the realities were much more dangerous.

"What people are actually ingesting is an industrial chemical solvent. The World Health Organization says it is the kind of substance commonly found in paint strippers, stain removers, and circuit board cleaners," Commander Sheehan said.

"This 'coma in a bottle' affects a person's consciousness - predators have used it to enable rape.

"It is vital we continue to work with our partners at the border to stop any dangerous drug that can contribute to these sorts of crimes in our community."

ABF Regional Commander NSW Tim Fitzgerald said the detection again showed the effectiveness of Australia's border and law enforcement agencies working together.

"From just a small piece of information received, investigators from the ABF and AFP were able to stop a significant amount of dangerous chemicals reaching the community and we now have a person before the courts," Regional Commander Fitzgerald said.

"This detection is a direct result of the expertise and capability of ABF officers in identifying a high-risk shipment and the method used to conceal this extremely dangerous drug," he said.

GBL metabolises into the drug gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) in the body.  It can cause an abrupt loss of consciousness, memory loss, respiratory difficulties, coma, and death.

A 30-year-old man had been charged for his alleged role in the 2000litre importation of GBL.

Early last month, AFP officers executed a series of search warrants across Sydney in Warwick Farm, Marrickville, Moorebank and Lewisham, where a 30-year-old man was arrested.

The man was charged with one count of importing of a commercial quantity of a border controlled substance under subsection 307.1(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).  

Authorities say investigations into this importation were ongoing, and further arrests had not been ruled out.

Anyone with information about the importation of illicit drugs is encouraged to contact Border Watch by visiting You can provide information anonymously.

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