SYDNEY, NSW, Australia - More than a quarter of a billion dollars worth of cocaine has been found concealed on a cargo ship in Sydney.
Law enforcement officers in Sydney revealed the discovery on Saturday. The 700-kilogram haul was found on 22 July when Australian Border Force (ABF) officers were inspecting shipping containers on the Singapore-registered container ship Maersk Inverness, which had docked a day earlier at Port Botany in suburban Sydney.
The cocaine was found packaged in denim bags inside a shipping container which was supposed to have been carrying wood products.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigators later seized 28 denim bags, each holding about 25kg of cocaine in brick form. Forensic examination of the drugs identified different emblems on the bricks of cocaine, including the numerals '5' and '365' and the word 'Netflix.'
AFP Detective Inspector Luke Wilson said the container ship had stopped at ports in Central and South America before making its way to Australia.
"We are still investigating where the drugs were loaded and who was planning to collect them in Australia," Det-Inspector Luke Wilson said Saturday.
"The interception of this amount of drugs would be a significant blow to a well-resourced syndicate and prevents millions of dollars of drug profit from flowing back into the syndicate to fund their lavish lifestyles or next criminal venture."
"The AFP estimates this seizure has saved the community more than $451 million in drug-related harm, including associated crime, healthcare, and loss of productivity."
Authorities say preliminary enquiries on the Maersk Inverness have been completed, and the vessel has been allowed to continue on its journey. It is currently anchored at the Port of Tauranga in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty.
ABF Detained Goods NSW Superintendent Joanne Yeats outlined the ABF's role in disrupting the criminal network's supply of drugs into the community
"This seizure demonstrates the technical expertise of our dedicated ABF officers who made the initial detection and stopped this large shipment of cocaine from entering our community," Superintendent Yeats said Saturday.
"We continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the Australian community is kept safe from the importation of dangerous drugs."
Purchasers on Australia's east coast can pay up to $400,000 for a kilogram of cocaine depending on availability and purity, with this amount of cocaine representing at least $280 million dollars, the AFP said in a statement.
Anyone with information about this matter is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 (within Australia) or +61 1 1800 333 000 (if calling from outside Australia).