WELLINGTON, Feb. 8 (AP) New Zealand police said Wednesday they found more than 3 tons of cocaine floating in a remote area of the Pacific Ocean that an international drug smuggling syndicate has released into the Pacific Ocean.
While they have yet to arrest anyone, police say they have dealt a financial blow to everyone from South American drug producers to distributors in what is the largest drug seizure ever seen in the country.
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New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the cocaine was dropped in 81 packages on a floating staging station before being intercepted by a naval vessel deployed to the area last week. The ship then made a six-day voyage back to New Zealand, where the drugs were recorded and destroyed.
Coster said the 3.2 tonnes (3.5 tonnes) of cocaine, with a wholesale value of about NZ$500 million (US$316 million), were likely bound for Australia.
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“We believe there is enough cocaine to supply the Australian market for about a year, which would exceed New Zealand’s use for 30 years,” Coster said.
He said the drugs were discovered after police, customs and the military launched Operation Hydros last December in cooperation with international partner agencies to identify and monitor the movement of suspicious vessels.
Coster said they are continuing to investigate the case with other international agencies.
New Zealand Customs Acting Comptroller Bill Perry said the smuggling showed organized syndicates going to lengths to smuggle drugs across the South Pacific.
“We think it might just be a sign that transnational organized crime groups are testing the market differently, so as agencies we need to work together,” Perry said. (AP)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)