A YACHT with 700kg of cocaine concealed in its hull has been intercepted by police in NSW.
Authorities raided the vessel at Toronto near Lake Macquarie on Wednesday, following a multi-agency investigation into international drug trafficking by sea.
“In August, investigators from the NSW Police Force State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad, Australian Federal Police, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission commenced a joint investigation into the importation of cocaine by private vessels,” NSW Police said in a statement.
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“As a result of inquiries, investigators identified a vessel of interest travelling from the South Pacific bound for NSW, which was monitored through Australian waters.
During the operation, a 68-year-old man was arrested on board the vessel, a 47-year-old man was arrested at a hotel at Warners Bay, and a 63-year-old man was arrested at a home at Islington
Police say specialist forensic officers are continuing to deconstruct the boat and examine the contents, but it is believed to contain 700kg of cocaine, which has an estimated potential street value of $245 million.
The three men were charged with import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs and refused bail to appear at Newcastle Local Court today, where they were formally bail refused to appear at the same court on Tuesday 30 January 2018.
The maximum penalty for import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs is life imprisonment.
Investigations into the drug importation are continuing, and police say further arrests are expected.