An intricate cocaine ring, involving as many as 15 men, has been busted during a joint operation launched by Tahiti and Australian police. Following the crackdown, 1.1 tonnes of cocaine worth hundreds of millions of dollars has been confiscated, said officials on 29 December.
"The size of that seizure collectively - 1.1 tonnes - makes it the largest cocaine seizure in Australian law enforcement history," said Australian Federal Police acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan, according to Agence France-Presse.
It was also reported that the joint raid was one of the many Christmas and Boxing Day raids and is a result of a two-and-a-half-year investigation on commercial fishermen who were suspected to be involved in the racket.
"The criminal syndicate we have dismantled over the last few days was a robust, resilient and determined syndicate," said the officer, according to the news agency.
"Their attitude was that they were determined to exploit some of the most vulnerable people in the community through the use of drugs and enrich themselves to do so," he added.
All the men who have been detained are fishermen, belonging to the same gang, and were using fishing trawlers to traffic cocaine from South America to Australia, the initial investigation revealed. Moreover, the miscreants, who are aged between 29 and 63 years, have been charged with conspiring to import cocaine into Australia and have been refused bail.
"We have ongoing inquiries, particularly in South America and other parts of the world, to look at who they were dealing with to bring those drugs from those countries to Australia," said Sheehan. He also added the drug would have had deadly consequences if it had reached the masses.
Meanwhile, the Australian Border Force Assistant Commissioner, Tim Fitzgerald, said that the international organised crime syndicates had been taking advantage of Australia's 35,000-kilometre coastline. "As is evidenced today, through co-operation and hard work of police officers, border force officers, syndicates such as this will be taken down," said Tim, as reported by the news agency.