Australian law enforcement has seized around a ton of cocaine after dramatically raiding a moving vessel which had received the major transfer of drugs from another boat, about 200 nautical miles off the coast of Newcastle.
Saturday’s raid followed an Australian border force investigation, which began last week after authorities spotted a ship moving in an unusual trajectory from the coast of China. A fishing vessel named the Coralynne approached the boat from China and allegedly performed an “at-sea transfer of illicit drugs bound for Australia,” New South Wales Police reports. Police posted a video of the operation online on Monday.
“It seems like they thought they could just cruise back and nobody would notice,” a law enforcement source told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Adding to the drama, a fire broke out in the engine room of the Coralynne as police boarded the vessel to conduct the raid.
The moment Australian authorities intercepted a drug-filled fishing vessel off the NSW coast near Newcastle. The AFP, @nswpolice and @AusBorderForce investigation has led to the arrest of three men and seizure of hundreds of kgs of cocaine.
— AFP (@AusFedPolice) August 18, 2020
After extinguishing the blaze, the officers found a massive stash of cocaine, completely unconcealed. The haul is yet to be weighed, but Assistant Police Commissioner Justine Gough estimated it was around one metric ton. Local media reports said the drugs were worth around $180 million.
The boat’s three seemingly carefree crewmembers were Australians Christopher Preca and Jackson Gilles-Adams, and Man Wah Chan from Hong Kong. They appeared before local court on Monday, were refused bail and currently face the possibility of life in prison if convicted.
The three were also tested for Covid-19 by the city’s health department and were subjected to decontamination by the fire department and a hazardous material response unit.
“Organised criminal syndicates should see this weekend’s arrests as a warning, that if you wish to take advantage of the community through illegal activity in NSW, law enforcement agencies in Australia will work together to dismantle your operation,” Assistant Police Commissioner Stuart Smith said.
Investigations are continuing both locally and internationally, according to police.
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