Cologne, Germany -- Customs officials on Wednesday said they had confiscated seven kilos of crystal meth - the largest haul of the drug ever found in Germany. The dangerous stimulant was stashed in a delivery of wooden carvings from Nigeria.
Police said they found the massive stash of crystal methamphetamine, also known as crystal or meth, when inspecting a box of wooden statues which arrived by air from the western African nation last Friday. The carvings also held three kilos of cocaine, said police in a statement on Wednesday.
Narcotics officials in Cologne suspect the record stash was the work of an international drug ring believed to be smuggling narcotics through the western German city of Cologne.
Airport officials had been put on high alert after a 55-year-old woman from Cologne was arrested in Tokyo at the end of March. She had been caught trying to smuggle around four kilogrammes of crystal meth into Japan - also hidden in wooden African statues.
Customs officials became suspicious when similar statues arrived at Cologne/Bonn Airport last week. On cracking open the hollow carvings, police said they found the crystal meth and cocaine wrapped in plastic bags inside.
Later that day two men aged 21 and 40 were arrested when they tried to pick up their delivery. Upon searching their flat, along with three others in the Cologne area, police said they found "extensive evidence," confirming the existence of the drug ring. A 24-year-old Nigerian suspected of working as a gang accomplice, was also arrested.
The find is the biggest in a series of crystal meth smuggling hauls discovered in recent weeks in Germany.
Authorities across Europe are increasingly concerned by a rapid growth in the use of highly addictive and cheap meth in recent years. The synthetic drug, typically manufactured in kitchen labs, often tests positive for battery acid, rat poison and other poisonous substances.
Effects include euphoria, raised self esteem and loss of fear, tiredness, hunger and pain - feelings which can very quickly make users badly hooked. The physical and psychological effects on users have been known to be devastating.