SYDNEY (AP) — Cocaine pulled from a seized trawler was confirmed Wednesday to be Australia’s largest haul of the illicit drug.
The Coralynne was intercepted Saturday night after Australian intelligence officers saw it receive drugs transferred from a larger Chinese fishing boat that might have come from South America.
The haul had been estimated at up to 1 metric ton (1.1 U.S. tons) of cocaine before it was weighed.
But the Australian Border Force said on Wednesday that 1.8 metric tons (1.98 U.S. tons) of cocaine in 1,890 blocks had been removed from the trawler now docked in Sydney Harbor. The potential value of the drug was up to AU$850.5 million ($616 million), the agency said in a statement.
International criminal syndicates target the Australian illicit drug market because of the relatively high prices Australians are prepared to pay.
A man from Hong Kong and two Australians were refused bail Monday on charges of attempting to import a commercial quantity of cocaine. Each faces a potential life prison sentence if convicted. None has entered a plea.