Police discovered 3.5 metric tons of cocaine bricks — many labeled with Batman logos on them — floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean near New Zealand. It’s being called the biggest drug seizure in NZ history.
There were 81 packs tied to buoys and nets at a distance the Washington Post (and police reports) are calling a “six days sail” away from the New Zealand mainland. Police believe it’s a transit point where the bricks were meant to be picked up by a smuggling outfit and transported to Australia.
The packs, which were also branded with four-leaf clovers on them, is estimated to be enough to supply Australia for one year and New Zealand for three decades, police told reporters.. (Take this estimation with a grain of salt—cops always inflate the monetary estimations of their drug busts.)
Vice News writes that a South American-linked drug cartel had been under surveillance during a mission called “Operation Hydros” since December 2022, eventually leading to the seizure of “the floating drugstore,” which smugglers appear to have intended to pick up by a passing ship to avoid customs officials.
“There is no doubt this discovery lands a major financial blow, right from the South American producers through to the distributors of this product,” said Police Commissioner Andrew Coster in a statement. “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.”
Police told reporters that the coke stash would have been tracked down by smugglers using GPS.
“There are multiple ways in which organized crime will want to get its product in our country,” said Senior Detective Greg Williams. “And this is just one of those ways.”
Smuggling drugs into Australia and New Zealand is difficult due to the transport distances involved. The amount of coke found in the ocean thus broke officials’ brains.
Vice reports that Australia and New Zealand have the highest cocaine prices in the world, landing at a whopping $350 per gram, despite having the lowest purity of all the major drug markets. Thus, it makes Australia the most sought-after market by drug cartels due to much higher profits. Despite the low quality and high price, Australians consume the most coke per capita in the world.
Unfortunately, it looks like Aussies won’t be getting the snow day they wished for.