Authorities in New Zealand announced that they had intercepted a 3½-ton shipment of cocaine afloat in a remote swath of the Pacific Ocean.
“There is no doubt this discovery lands a major financial blow right from the South American producers through to the distributors of this product,” New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said in a news release Wednesday. “This is one of the single biggest seizures of illegal drugs by authorities in this country.”
No arrests had been made, but customs officials pointed to the magnitude of the bust, estimating the cocaine’s value at more than $315 million.
The drugs were left by smugglers at a floating drop point, officials said. The size of the shipment, split into 81 bales, suggested to authorities that it was headed to Australia. A Royal New Zealand Navy ship hauled the seized narcotics on a six-day trip to New Zealand, where the drugs will be destroyed, officials said.
The seizure, authorities said, was part of an operation dubbed Operation Hydros that began in December.
New Zealand authorities said they would continue to investigate the case and monitoring “suspicious” vessels in collaboration with international law enforcement partners.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New Zealand finds 3.5 tons of cocaine afloat in the Pacific Ocean