MORE than $245 million of cocaine has been seized by police who stopped a drug-filled yacht in NSW. Three men have been charged.
A MASSIVE amount of cocaine has been seized in a drug-filled yacht by NSW Police.
More than 700kg of the Class A drug, worth over $245 million, was intercepted in the Lake Macquarie area yesterday.
The strike comes after a multi-agency investigation into international drug-trafficking by sea by NSW Police Force (NSWPF) State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad, Australian Federal Police (AFP), and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).
During the operation, three men aged 68, 47 and 63 were arrested — one onboard the vessel at Toronto, another at a hotel at Warners Bay, and the third at a home at Islington.
Police said multiple search warrants were executed across the Lake Macquarie area with the assistance of Strike Force Raptor, and further warrants were executed by AFP in Western Australia and Thailand.
Onboard the vessel, investigators located a large commercial quantity of cocaine concealed within the hull.
Specialist forensic officers were continuing to deconstruct the boat and examine the contents. More forensic testing will be conducted to determine the exact weight and purity of cocaine.
The three men were charged with importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs. They were remanded in custody and appeared at Newcastle Local Court today, where bail was formally refused and the matter was adjourned to the same court on Tuesday January 30, 2018.
The maximum penalty for importing a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs is life imprisonment.
Joint investigations are continuing, and further arrests are expected.
NSWPF State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mal Lanyon, said the results of recent joint agency investigations were indicative of the seriousness of NSW’s thirst for illicit drugs, particularly cocaine.
“As we recently highlighted, the Organised Crime Squad — with the assistance of our law enforcement partners both here and abroad — has seized tonnes of prohibited drugs and precursors destined for the streets of NSW,” Assistant Commissioner Lanyon said.
“With every seizure we make, a syndicate is taken down, but the demand remains high, and another organised criminal syndicate is willing to flip the coin and risk it all to try and exploit that demand for profit.
“NSW Police Force will continue making arrests and seizing drugs — within NSW and offshore — with our partners, including AFP, ACIC, and ABF, but until there’s a reduction in demand, we cannot reduce the harm of organised criminal activity on the community.”
AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan, national manager Organised Crime and Cyber, said the drug-filled vessel had passed through Tahiti before making its way to the East Coast of Australia.
“It is no surprise that criminal syndicates undertake sophisticated attempts that go to great lengths — even crossing oceans in relatively small craft — to import narcotics,” Assistant Commissioner Gaughan said.
“This is nothing more than an attempt to flood our streets with dangerous narcotics to make a profit, with police, health professionals and the community picking up the bill for all the peripheral damage they will cause.”
Online Source News.com.au.