- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Over $300 million worth of cocaine was seized by New Zealand authorities after they found the narcotics floating in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.

The 7,000 pounds of drugs originated from organized crime groups in South America, authorities said Wednesday. Police believe the product was heading for Australia, where it would have served that market for the next year.

“This is one of the single biggest seizures of illegal drugs by authorities in this country,” Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said. “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.”

Pictures of the seized packages had the Batman symbol as well as black four-leaf clovers on them. The packages themselves were a part of a makeshift buoy that was a six-day journey away from New Zealand’s mainland. 

New Zealand police said the detection effort came as a part of Operation Hydros launched in December. Authorities didn’t detail how they located the drugs, only saying they had help from allied intelligence agencies.

“It is a huge illustration of what lengths organized crime will go to with their global drug trafficking operations and shows that we are not exempt from major organized criminal drug smuggling efforts in this part of the world,” Customs Service Acting Controller Bill Perry said.

No arrests have been made related to the seizure. The narcotics arrived Tuesday at New Zealand’s North Island, where they will be destroyed.

• Matt Delaney can be reached at mdelaney@washingtontimes.com.

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