Record $259 million worth of cocaine seized in two hauls in Australia

An Australian Federal Police Officer stands next to a pile of cocaine Thursday in Sydney, Australia, that was seized, including 1,102 pounds on Christmas Day. The total value is $259 million, including another haul in March. Photo by Daniel McCulloch/European Pressphoto Agency

SYDNEY, Dec. 30 (UPI) — Australian authorities seized cocaine worth about $259 million in a 2 1/2-year investigation, including 1,102 pounds on Christmas Day, in the nation’s largest haul from a single cartel, officials announced Thursday.

In March, law enforcement seized 1,336 pounds from the same cartel in Tahiti headed for Australia.

Operation Okesi was a joint effort by Australian Federal Police, New South Wales Police and Australia’s Border Force.

Fifteen men between 29 and 63 have been charged with drug importation, including businessman Darren Mohr, 42, and former Sydney Roosters rugby player John Tobin, 57.

“This job began with a thread of information to the NSW Police Force’s Drug Squad 2 1/2 years ago,” NSW Police Force State Crime Commander Mark Jenkins said beside a table piled high with cocaine bricks. “What has followed and the results achieved are a powerful example of the impact made by the hard work and cooperation of [Australian police].”

AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan said they were confident “the entire group has been taken out.”

“The size of that seizure collectively makes it the largest cocaine seizure in Australian law enforcement history,” Sheehan said.

The cartel had been smuggling drugs into Sydney on commercial fishing boats.

In the latest haul, police followed a large commercial fishing boat out of Sydney Fish Markets to the New South Wales south coast. On Christmas night, a one-man boat left the larger vessel and landed at Parsley Bay in Brooklyn, New South Whales.

Seven of the men were arrested and eight more were rounded up in NSW, Queensland and Tasmania.

On Tuesday, authorities in the Philippines announced 1,962 pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of $120 million was seized in drug raids — the largest haul ever in the nation.


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