New Zealand police find 3.2 tonnes of cocaine in Pacific Ocean
Estimated to be worth NZ$500 million, the "Batman-labelled" shipment was found in transit from New Zealand to Australia
New Zealand authorities have busted an enormous 3.2 tonne shipment of cocaine, estimated to be worth around $500 million (NZ), found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
The haul is said to be the largest seizure of drugs by New Zealand police, found in transit from New Zealand and expected to land in Australia. The shipment, if it had landed at its destination, would have supplied the country for a whole year, according to police.
The quantity of the shipment wasn’t the only surprising part of the find - some of the 81 bales of cocaine found were also labelled with a Batman print, while others were emblemised with a four leaf clover.
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In a press release on Wednesday, New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said: “There is no doubt this discovery lands a major financial blow right from the South American producers through to the distributors of this product.”
“This is one of the single biggest seizures of illegal drugs by authorities in this country,” he added, saying that it surpassed the scale of other drug seizures by “quite some margin”.
The seizure was estimated to have fetched $500 million NZ dollars had it reached Australia, equivalent to around US $315m or UK £261m.
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"It is more than New Zealand would use in 30 years," said Coster. “We believe we have dealt a significant blow to an international criminal syndicate's operation.”
No arrests have been made as of yet, although the investigation, which began last December looking into suspicious vessels travelling by sea, is ongoing.
“New Zealand is not a cocaine market,” said Greg Williams, director of the police’s national organised crime group. “We are tiny compared to Australia.”
Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Editorial Assistant, follow her on Twitter