Australia's third largest cocaine seizure in Queensland

14:33, October 14, 2010      

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Australia's third largest drug bust in Queensland has seized almost half a tonne of cocaine from a yacht docked at the state capital Brisbane's marina, the Australian Federal Police said on Thursday.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australian Customs and Border Protection Service conducted a joint operation to confiscate the 464kg cocaine, worth an estimated 160 million AU dollars (159 million U.S. dollars), from a yacht docked at Brisbane's Scarborough Marina at Redcliffe, north of Brisbane in Queensland.

"It's the third-largest haul in Australia's history," AFP Deputy Commissioner Andrew Colvin told reporters in Brisbane.

"The cocaine could have potentially earned ... more than 160 million Australian dollars on Australian streets," Colvin said.

United States authorities tipped off the AFP late last week that a catamaran carrying cocaine was destined for Australia from South America.

After two days of intense helicopter surveillance by Australian authorities, the ship and another vessel were found on Friday, 800km off the coast of Brisbane.

It is alleged the cocaine had been offloaded to a daughter ship that then brought it into Brisbane's Scarborough Marina.

The mother ship was intercepted late Wednesday and was being towed backed to Brisbane.

Two people on board the catamaran, believed to be from Costa Rica and Germany, have been detained.

The drugs were seized and arrests were made.

The AFP charged three men from Australia's New South Wales State, aged 49, 41 and 38, on Tuesday.

Two were charged with attempted importation of a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and the other with possession.

The men appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

They did not apply for bail and were remanded in custody to reappear on November 5.

AFP officers were still investigating where the drugs were from and from which South American port the vessel departed.

Source: Xinhua


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