Police have released photos of a mind-boggling transport of 1,543 pounds of cocaine found hidden on a freighter moored at Port Botany in Sydney.
On July 22, Australian Border Force officers discovered the cocaine, worth an estimated $193 million, hidden in denim bags inside a shipping container marked as containing wooden products .
Officers seized 28 bags each containing approximately 55 pounds of cocaine packaged in compact bricks.
Authorities say forensic examination of the bricks of cocaine revealed they had been marked with emblems, including numbers like 365 and the word “Netflix.”
The freighter was allowed to continue on its way after officers conducted preliminary investigations.
Australian Federal Police Detective Inspector Luke Wilson said he 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 major blow to a well-resourced syndicate and prevent millions of dollars in drug profits from flowing back into the syndicate to fund their lavish lifestyle or their next criminal enterprise.”
According to AFP, the huge cocaine bust averted nearly $311 million in drug-related harm, including related crimes, lost productivity and healthcare costs.
Australian Border Force NSW Detained Goods Superintendent Joanne Yeats said the massive haul showed Border Force officers’ expertise in detecting illegal drug shipments.
“We continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the Australian community is safe from the importation of dangerous drugs,” she said.
AFP notes that 2.2 pounds of cocaine can fetch up to just over $276,000 on Australia’s east coast, depending on the availability and purity of the drug.
The seizure comes as Australia is in the midst of a cocaine shortage, meaning the wholesale price of 2.2 pounds of cocaine is now at least $89,000 more expensive than it was before the pandemic.
According to the police, the national demand for illicit drugs remains high and the increase in the number of people who use drugs is of concern.