More than 200 kilograms of cocaine hidden inside a boat sailing off the NSW coast has been seized by police.
The drugs were concealed inside packages and stuffed into tubs on the boat, which was intercepted by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and Australia Border Force (ABF) on Saturday following a tip-off.
The boat was brought in for forensic analysis in Balmain, in Sydney's Inner West, where the drugs were unloaded.
A larger 330m "mother" vessel containing shipping containers unloaded the drugs onto the smaller "daughter" vessel, which was intercepted off the NSW coast, near the Royal National Park.
The larger boat is now docked in Port Botany and has been searched by police.
Authorities believe the drugs likely came from Antwerp in Belgium, where the mother vessel originated.
A 27-year-old South Australian man has been arrested over his alleged involvement in the operation.
ABF officer Garry Lowe said the investigation highlights the lengths people will go to import drugs.
"This operation really exhibits the lengths that these criminals will go to fuel their greed," he said.
"With this one it was quite complex, it shows that they really went to quite a brazen effort in importing this dangerous chemical."
The bust marks the third time a small vessel has been caught importing cocaine into NSW since the outbreak of COVID-19.
Items seized were managed in collaboration with NSW Health to ensure they were processed safely.
Kirsty Scofield, AFP commander of investigations, said that Australia is a particularly target for drug smugglers.
"Australia is a really lucrative market for drugs, so therefore we are targeted by transnational organised crime groups," she said.
"The amount of drugs that we have seized collectively between the agencies is quite significant.
"The investigation is ongoing and he (the 27-year-old man) will be before the courts this morning."
Ms Scofield said that the transfer of drugs at seas is a well known method that a lot of crime groups use.
"What has changed is how we have to deal with these importations when they arrive on shore," she said.
"NSW Health have had a big role in how we deal with offenders."
More than $500,000 in cash was also seized as part of the operation.
Police are investigating whether the cocaine is linked to packages that washed up on Malabar Beach last week, but they believe the instances are separate.
Source: 9News https://www.9news.com.au/national/200-kgs-of-cocaine-hidden-inside-fishing-boat-seized-off-nsw-coast/87e4b603-86e3-4246-8e9c-f421650d73d8