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September 22, 2017

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Australia arrests 4 Taiwanese for drug trafficking

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Four Taiwanese nationals were recently arrested by Australian police on narcotics trafficking charges, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) confirmed yesterday.

After learning of the news, Taiwan's representative office in Sydney immediately established contact with Australia police authorities responsible for investigations of the case, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said yesterday.

According to Kao, Australian police said the four were arrested on charges of smuggling drugs and possession of a large quantity of narcotics.

They were not traveling on working holiday visas while visiting the country, she added.

She did not give further details about the case, citing an ongoing investigation as the reason.

MOFA will offer all necessary assistance to the nationals, she noted.

Kao, however, reminded Taiwanese not to bring forbidden items and to follow local laws when traveling overseas.

Kao's comments confirmed a statement released by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) earlier yesterday.

Australian authorities arrested the four Taiwanese nationals after seizing 183 kilograms of methamphetamine found stashed in kayaks from China; the haul was worth US$162 million, the AFP said.

The 183-kilogram haul was discovered during a joint Australian Federal Police and Customs and Border Protection Service operation at Sydney's container port.

Police on Tuesday arrested three men and one woman — all Taiwanese — after they allegedly went to pick up the drugs. A fifth person, an Australian, was arrested at his home.

According to an Australian media report, the four Taiwanese were identified as Lin Chieh-wei, 28, Kuo Chien-chih, 21, Shih Meng-chih, 30, and Zhao Xiung, 35.

All five were denied bail when they appeared in a Sydney court on Wednesday. They face a maximum penalty of life in jail if convicted, the report said.

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