NZ Customs help Australian cocaine bust

The alleged bust comes just days after six men were charged with plotting to smuggle $60million worth of cocaine into Australia on an ex Japanese whaling boat

The following day, another three men were arrested on the New South Wales South Coast and charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug.

An AFP spokesman said Border Force officers assisted in the arrest of the six suspects.

The other men arrested included three aged 63, 62 and 66 who police allege meant to meet the Elakha at sea before returning to shore with the drugs.

He confirmed the bust was the largest drug haul in New Zealand history and praised the New Zealand Customs officers who worked on the operation for their "really tenacious thorough work". "The interception of this huge volume of drugs and the charging of these six men is a testament to the officer's drive and determination", he said.

Last Thursday, Australia's maritime security authority intercepted the vessel and detained the two crew members aboard: a New Zealand national and a Swiss-Fijian dual national.

A yacht off the NSW south coast was intercepted last week and the drugs were seized.

"We hope that this operation sends a strong message to anyone thinking of smuggling drugs: no matter how innovative or complex their ways are, our evolving detection methods and resources, including at sea, will keep up with them".

In a joint statement, Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said: "This is the largest cocaine haul ever seized in a single operation in Australia's history".

With high street prices making Australia an attractive destination for drug smugglers, police say that they have stopped more than 11 tonnes of illicit substances bound for the local market in the past 18 months.

Further details about the operation and New Zealand Custom's involvement will be revealed at a press conference on Monday afternoon.

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