What $280m in cocaine looks like

Police have released photos of an eye-watering haul of 700kg of cocaine found hidden on a cargo ship docked in Sydney’s Port Botany.

Australian Border Force officers on July 22 uncovered the cocaine, worth an estimated $280m, hidden in denim bags inside a shipping container that was marked as holding wood products.

Officers seized 28 bags, each of which held about 25kg of cocaine packed into compact bricks.

Authorities say forensic examination of the cocaine bricks revealed they had been marked with emblems, including numerals like 365 and the word “Netflix”.

Camera IconAustralian Border Force officers discovered 700kg of cocaine inside an international cargo ship. Credit: News Corp Australia

The cargo ship was allowed to continue on its way after officers conducted preliminary inquiries.

Australian Federal Police Detective Inspector Luke Wilson said it had docked at ports in Central and South America before arriving in Australia.

“We are still investigating where the drugs were loaded and who was planning to collect them in Australia,” he said.

“The interception of this amount of drugs would be a significant blow to a well-resourced syndicate, and prevents millions of dollars of drug profit flowing back into the syndicate to fund their lavish lifestyles or next criminal venture.”

The 25kg cocaine blocks were variously marked with numerals and words.
Camera IconThe 25kg cocaine blocks were variously marked with numerals and words. Credit: News Corp Australia

According to the AFP, the enormous cocaine seizure prevented more than $451m of drug-related harm, including the related crimes, loss of productivity and healthcare expenses.

Australian Border Force Detained Goods NSW Superintendent Joanne Yeats said the massive haul showed the expertise of border force officers in detecting illegal drug shipments.

“We continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure the Australian community is kept safe from the importation of dangerous drugs,” she said.

Cargo Ships
Camera IconThe staggering cocaine haul was found in a container that was meant to contain wood products. John Grainger Credit: News Corp Australia

The AFP notes 1kg of cocaine can fetch up to $400,000 on Australia’s eastern coast, depending on the availability and purity of the drug.

The seizure comes as Australia is in the midst of a cocaine shortage, which means the wholesale price of 1kg of cocaine is now at least $130,000 more expensive than it was before the pandemic.

Police say the nationwide demand for the illicit drug remains high and the increased number of people using the drug is concerning.

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