The high seas! New Zealand authorities seize £260 million of cocaine in Pacific Ocean

·1-min read
NZ Defence Force/Cover Images

New Zealand Police, Customs officials and its Defence Force recovered a shipment of cocaine worth half a billion New Zealand dollars - around $315 million (£260 million) - in the Pacific Ocean.

An incredible 81 bales of the product were sent back to New Zealand aboard the Royal New Zealand Navy vessel HMNZS Manawanui, where they will now be destroyed.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said that given the large size of the shipment it will have likely been destined for the Australian market.

"There is no doubt this discovery lands a major financial blow right from the South American producers through to the distributors of this product," he said.

"This is one of the single biggest seizures of illegal drugs by authorities in this country. While this disrupts the syndicate's operations, we remain vigilant given the lengths we know these groups will go to circumvent coming to law enforcement's attention."

The recovery of the shipment was part of Operation Hydros, initiated in December 2022 to identify and monitor suspicious vessels' movements. While no arrests have been made at this stage, enquiries will continue.

New Zealand Customs Service Acting Comptroller Bill Perry added: "Customs is pleased to have helped prevent such a large amount of cocaine causing harm in communities here in New Zealand, Australia and elsewhere in the wider Pacific region. The sheer scale of this seizure is estimated to have taken more than half a billion dollars worth of cocaine out of circulation.

"It is a huge illustration of what lengths organised crime will go to with their global drug trafficking operations and shows that we are not exempt from major organised criminal drug smuggling efforts in this part of the world."