A $150 million maple syrup meth bust

According to the UN’s 2022 World Drug Report, seizures of methamphetamines are on the rise. The latest of these huge meth busts comes with a rather ridiculous Canadian twist.   

What happened: New Zealand authorities completed the biggest meth bust in the country’s history after seizing 713 kilograms of meth valued at US$150 million. The shipment was headed for Australia hidden in—get this—bottles of Canadian maple syrup and canola oil. 

  • The bust, which so far has resulted in the arrest of a dozen individuals, was the result of over five months of collaboration between the three countries. 

Canadian authorities caught wind of the scheme in January after discovering 2,900 litres of liquid meth hidden in canola oil bottles heading to Australia. We wonder what stereotypical Canadian export the cartel would have used next. Back bacon? Shania Twain CDs? 

  • The authorities swapped the meth for a harmless substance and sent the package on its way, with police Down Under tailing the people who came to pick it up.

Why it matters: Crime syndicates aren’t publishing quarterly earnings reports, so it’s hard to know just how big an industry the illegal drug trade is. But it is big. Some estimates peg it at nearly 1% of global GDP. The most recent government estimate for the size of Canada’s drug market is from 2001 (read: outdated), but it’s likely in the tens of billions.—QH