New Zealand discovers $500m of ‘Batman’ cocaine floating in Pacific Ocean
New Zealand’s navy has intercepted a record-breaking haul of cocaine floating in international waters in the Pacific Ocean.
The country says the haul was likely bound for Australia and would have ‘supplied the country for a year’.
With an estimated worth of NZ$500m (US$315m, AU$456m), the 3.2-tonne haul is the largest ever seizure of illicit drugs that New Zealand law enforcement has made — “by quite some margin” — according to the police commissioner, Andrew Coster, speaking to media at a news conference in Wellington on Wednesday (8 February 2023).
“It is more [cocaine] than New Zealand would use in 30 years,” he added, explaining that the Australian market for the drug is much larger.
In total, there were 81 bales in the haul, many in nets strung together with buoys. Photos released by the police show some were labelled with a Batman symbol. Others were decorated with a picture of a black four-leaf clover. These symbols are considered “trademark logos” for the drug producers, who New Zealand officials say are believed to be in South America.
The discovery resulted from a joint operation between New Zealand police, defence and customs agents to monitor suspicious vessels. No arrests have been made so far.
The cocaine, which was found last week, arrived in Auckland under police escort on Tuesday. The haul will be destroyed.
“We believe we have dealt a significant blow to an international criminal syndicate’s operation,” Coster adds.