A shipment of cocaine worth NZ$66.2 million has been found hidden inside the hull of a cargo ship, in an emerging smuggling trend.
The ship arrived at the Port of Melbourne from South America on October 7, with a suspicious attachment identified on its hull below the waterline.
Specialist divers retrieved four packages of cocaine with a combined weight of 154kg wrapped in plastic from inside the vessel’s sea chest. It’s estimated the massive haul equates to about 770,000 street deals.
Australian Federal Police officers seized the drugs and a suspected tracking device, launching an investigation to identify the cocaine’s source and its intended destination. General crew on the ship can’t access the area.
It is the second attempted import of its kind in two months after 200kg of cocaine was seized from the sea chest of another vessel docked in the Port of Melbourne in August.
AFP Assistant Commissioner Hilda Sirec said the smuggling tactic was a rising trend for transnational organised crime groups.