Australian authorities have seized more than a tonne of cocaine worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to police who described it as one of the country’s largest drug seizures.
Police listed on Thursday 600kg of cocaine intercepted by the French navy off Tahiti in March and 500kg seized on Christmas Day in Sydney – all destined for the Australian market.
Fifteen men, including commercial fishing operators, were arrested over the past few days for allegedly importing the cocaine from South America.
The arrests followed a two-and-a-half year investigation into fishermen who were allegedly using trawlers to move cocaine from South America to Australia.
Police said the secret operation culminated in arrests on Christmas Day at Sydney Fish Market when a trawler docked that had allegedly been used to meet a “mother ship”, which police told The Telegraph had travelled from Chile.
The authorities released video footage showing three men being arrested aboard a fishing boat and led away in handcuffs.
Another 12 men were arrested over the past few days.
“This is a very significant organised crime group,” said New South Wales Police Force Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins.
Chris Sheehan, the federal police acting assistant commissioner, said that investigations were continuing in South America to find the suppliers of the contraband.