Police have seized nearly $360 million worth of cocaine in what authorities have claimed is the largest in Australia’s history, authorities said on Thursday.
Fifteen men, including a former National Rugby League (NRL) player, were arrested during the Christmas Day raids on Sunday following an undercover operation that had been ongoing for more than two and a half years, 9 News Australia reported.
Australian Federal Police (AFP) and New South Wales state police have charged the 15 men allegedly involved in the ring, and seized approximately 500 kg of cocaine in Brooklyn, north of Sydney and a further 600 kg in Tahiti that was allegedly bound for Australia.
The bust also involved authorities in Tahiti and Fiji.
“The size of that seizure collectively makes it the largest cocaine seizure in Australian law enforcement history,” AFP Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan said on Thursday.
“The criminal syndicate we have dismantled over the last few days was a robust, resilient and determined syndicate.”
Sheehan said they were confident “the entire group has been taken out”, 9 News Australia said.
“We have ongoing inquiries, particularly in South America and other parts of the world, to look at who they were dealing with to bring those drugs from those countries to Australia.”
Images released by the AFP show multiple men being arrested in the raids from on-board a fishing boat.
They were pictured in hand cuffs and are being escorted away by authorities.
The men, aged between 29 and 63 years, have been charged with serious drug offences and all have been refused bail, the NSW Police added.