Police have released photos of an eye-watering haul of 1,543 pounds of cocaine found hidden on a cargo ship docked in Sydney’s Port Botany.
Australian Border Force officers on July 22 uncovered the cocaine, worth an estimated $193 million, hidden in denim bags inside a shipping container that was marked as holding wood products.
Officers seized 28 bags, each of which held about 55 pounds of cocaine packed into compact bricks.
Authorities say forensic examination of the cocaine bricks revealed they had been marked with emblems, including numerals like 365 and the word “Netflix”.
The cargo ship was allowed to continue on its way after officers conducted preliminary inquiries.
Australian Federal Police Detective Inspector Luke Wilson said it had docked at ports in Central and South America before arriving in Australia.
“We are still investigating where the drugs were loaded and who was planning to collect them in Australia,” he said.
“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 flowing back into the syndicate to fund their lavish lifestyles or next criminal venture.”
According to the AFP, the enormous cocaine seizure prevented nearly $311 million of drug-related harm, including the related crimes, loss of productivity and healthcare expenses.
Australian Border Force Detained Goods NSW Superintendent Joanne Yeats said the massive haul showed the expertise of border force officers in detecting illegal drug shipments.
“We continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the Australian community is kept safe from the importation of dangerous drugs,” she said.
The AFP notes 2.2 pounds of cocaine can fetch up to a little bit over $276,000 on Australia’s eastern coast, depending on the availability and purity of the drug.
The seizure comes as Australia is in the midst of a cocaine shortage, which means the wholesale price of 2.2 pounds of cocaine is now at least $89,000 more expensive than it was before the pandemic.
Police say the nationwide demand for the illicit drug remains high and the increased number of people using the drug is concerning.