New Zealand retrieves three tons of cocaine from the Pacific
DThe New Zealand authorities have found more than three tons cocaine pulled ashore from the Pacific. The drug was probably intended for Australia, said police chief Andrew Coster on Wednesday at a press conference in the island state. The amount would have been enough to supply the Australian market with cocaine for about a year. In the much smaller New Zealand it would have been enough for more than three decades.
The charge is by far the largest find of illegal drugs in the country’s history. The police chief estimated the street value of the cocaine at around half a billion dollars, the equivalent of around 294 million euros. “There is no doubt that this find will represent a major financial loss, from producers in South America to retailers,” said Coster.
According to police, the drug was found in international waters. It was packaged in 81 packages printed with the Batman symbol from the comic books of the same name or a four-leaf clover, the “trademarks” of the respective drug cartels. The packages had apparently been lowered into the water in a net and fitted with floats at a floating “transit point”. There they waited for someone to collect them. “Cocaine floats,” New Zealand Police Organized Crime Chief Greg Williams said at the press conference. According to him, this is an already known way of transferring large quantities of drugs. In 2021, $1 million worth of cocaine washed up on a beach in the Pacific state of Tonga.
New Zealand rather “no cocaine market”
Police didn’t say how they found the cocaine. However, she referred to the “Five Eyes” secret service agreement with the USA and other Anglo-Saxon countries. Potential participants are being investigated internationally, so far no one has been arrested. A New Zealand warship took the cocaine find on board a week ago. She had arrived in the port city of Auckland on Tuesday. The transit point was a six-day drive northeast of New Zealand. Operation Hydros, during which the spectacular find was made, began in December last year. The New Zealand police had worked together with customs and the armed forces.
The find shows that even this part of the world deep in the South Pacific is not exempt from organized criminal drug smuggling on a large scale, said Bill Perry of the New Zealand customs authority. Police say New Zealand is not a “cocaine market”. Only 1.7 kilograms of the white powder are consumed per week. Instead, methamphetamines in particular are widespread in New Zealand. The police announced that the cocaine would be destroyed immediately.