Australian police seize $193 million worth of cocaine on cargo ship
Police have released photos of a staggering 1,543 pounds of cocaine found hidden on a cargo ship docked at Port Botany in Sydney.
On July 22, Australian Border Force officers discovered the estimated $193 million worth of cocaine hidden in jean pockets in a shipping container marked as wood products.
Officers seized 28 bags, each containing about 55 pounds of cocaine packed in compact bricks.
Authorities say forensic examination of the cocaine bricks revealed they were marked with emblems, including numerals like 365 and the word “Netflix”.
The cargo ship was allowed to continue its voyage after officials conducted preliminary investigations.
Australian Federal Police Inspector Luke Wilson said it called at ports in Central and South America before arriving in Australia.
“We are still investigating where the drugs were loaded and who planned to pick them up in Australia,” he said.
“Intercepting this amount of drugs would be a major blow to a well-resourced syndicate and prevents millions of dollars in drug profits from flowing back into the syndicate to fund their lavish lifestyle or their next criminal venture.”
Huge cocaine seizures averted nearly $311 million in drug-related harm, including related crime, lost productivity and health care expenses, according to AFP.
Australian Border Force Detained Goods NSW Superintendent Joanne Yeats said the massive transport showed border officials’ expertise in uncovering illicit shipments of drugs.
“We continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the Australian community is protected from the importation of dangerous drugs,” she said.
AFP notes that 2.2 pounds of cocaine on Australia’s east coast can fetch up to just over $276,000, depending on the drug’s availability and purity.
The seizure comes as Australia is in the midst of a cocaine shortage, meaning the wholesale price of 2.2 pounds of cocaine is now at least $89,000 more expensive than before the pandemic.
Police say nationwide demand for the illicit drug remains high and the rising number of people using the drug is worrying.