New Zealand authorities seize tonnes of cocaine floating in ocean

In a major drugs bust, New Zealand authorities seized over 3 tonnes of cocaine floating in the Pacific Ocean. Police Commissioner Andrew Coster stated on Wednesday that the amount of cocaine was enough to service the Australian market for a year and was more than what New Zealand would use in 30 years.

The massive haul of 81 bales weighing 3.2 metric tonnes was intercepted as part of Operation Hydros, a joint operation between the country’s police, customs, and defence force. The value of the cocaine was estimated to be over half a billion New Zealand dollars (around US$318 million). The amount of cocaine is reported by some outlets to be “record-breaking.”

The police believe that an international crime syndicate was behind the cache, which was headed for Australia, CNN reported.

One of the packages had a Batman logo plastered across it, while others were labelled with black four-leaf clovers.

The navy took six days to transport the drugs back to New Zealand, where they will be destroyed. Although no arrests have been made, an international investigation is ongoing. Operation Hydros, which began in December, monitors suspicious vessel movements and works with international partner agencies.

Acting Controller of New Zealand Customs Service, Bill Perry, commented that the seizure is a huge illustration of the lengths organised crime will go to in their global drug trafficking operations and shows that New Zealand is not exempt from such smuggling efforts. The police commissioner emphasized the significance of the recovery and its impact on the drug syndicate.

New Zealand’s drug market has been reported to be smaller than those of other countries, however, there have recently been a number of cocaine busts. Much of New Zealand’s cocaine is believed to come from South America, and to be imported via other countries, particularly Australia.

Despite the efforts of law enforcement, organised crime groups continue to smuggle drugs into New Zealand and the country remains vulnerable to their global drug trafficking operations.

Last year in March, New Zealand authorities seized 700 kilograms of cocaine.

In December, it was reported that cocaine worth an estimated US$242 million had been seized in New Zealand over the past decade.

Cocaine is one of the most widely used illicit drugs globally, with millions of people using it every year.

According to the World Drug Report 2021, produced by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), cocaine remains the second most widely used drug globally, after cannabis.

The highest levels of cocaine use are found in North America, Europe, and South America, where the drug is widely cultivated and produced.

According to the UNODC, cocaine trafficking remains a major concern for law enforcement agencies around the world, and efforts to combat the trade are ongoing.

In 2019, it was estimated that there were approximately 18 million cocaine users globally.

Crime News

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Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.