Australian police have seized more than 200 kilograms of cocaine hidden in the hull of a cargo ship that had taken a complex international route. The ship had left Argentina and crossed New Zealand before arriving at the port of Melbourne. The discovery raised serious concerns about attempts by transnational criminal organizations to smuggle drugs into Australia.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officers deployed a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to conduct a thorough search of the vessel, which had docked at Melbourne’s Maribyrnong Terminal. The ROV identified a suspicious piece of hull in the ship’s trunk, a compartment containing hoses used to pump seawater in and out of the ballast tanks.
Specialist divers from the Victoria Police Search and Rescue Squad then recovered packages of cocaine from the trunk, which were subsequently seized by the Australian Federal Police (AFP). The drugs seized are estimated to have a street value of 80 million Australian dollars (approximately R978.7 million).
AFP Commander Richard Chin said the ongoing investigation was aimed at identifying the criminal networks behind the smuggling operation. He urged the public to come forward with any information they may have.