In a joint media conference, the authorities announced a massive drug bust that resulted in the seizure of 81 bales of cocaine, worth an estimated half a billion dollars. This major operation was carried out by the New Zealand Police, New Zealand Customs Service, and the New Zealand Defence Force.
The drugs, discovered adrift in the Pacific Ocean six days prior, were brought back to New Zealand aboard the HMNZS Manawanui, a Royal New Zealand Navy vessel. Upon their arrival, the drugs were promptly destroyed.
According to Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, the large size of the shipment indicated that it was likely intended for the Australian market. This seizure represents the largest single confiscation of illegal drugs in New Zealand’s history and is a significant financial blow to the drug syndicates operating in South America and beyond.
While no arrests have been made at this time, investigations into the shipment continue. The authorities declined to elaborate on how they were able to locate the floating shipment of drugs.
Acting Comptroller Bill Perry of the New Zealand Customs Service gave his estimation on the intercepted drugs’ value, stating that the sheer scale of this seizure was enough to take more than half a billion dollars worth of cocaine out of circulation. He emphasized that this bust is a testament to the lengths organized crime will go to with their global drug trafficking operations and serves as a reminder that New Zealand is not exempt from major organized criminal drug smuggling efforts.
Rear Admiral Jim Gilmour, Joint Forces Commander of the Defence Force, praised the successful operation, stating that the Defence Force had the right people and capabilities to support the operation. He expressed pride in their role in protecting New Zealand and was pleased to be a part of this successful outcome.
The authorities remain vigilant in the face of this major disruption to the drug syndicates’ operations, aware of the lengths these groups will go to in order to avoid detection by law enforcement. As the investigation continues, the authorities are committed to doing everything in their power to dismantle these criminal organizations and disrupt their illicit activities.”