Australian police say they have seized the country’s largest cocaine haul on a cruise ship in Sydney Harbor.
Customs officers seized 95 kilograms (210 lb) of cocaine packed into suitcases in the Sea Princess cruise ship’s passenger cabins over the weekend, officials said Monday.
The seizure came following a joint operation, leading to the arrest of three Canadians.
The three did not enter pleas when they were charged in the Sydney Central Local Court with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine. They face potential life sentences if convicted.
Drugs with an estimated street value of almost $31 million seized on a cruise ship in Sydney Harbor on August 28 (Photo by ABC News)
Police have not ruled out further arrests as investigations are underway.
The officials said they boarded the vessel on Sunday and searched cabins with the help of sniffer dogs.
“This particular cruise ship – because of the nature and the amount of ports it had been to – was considered quite high risk in itself,” said the regional commander for the Australian Border Force (ABF), Tim Fitzgerald.
Tim Fitzgerald, the regional commander for the Australian Border Force (ABF)
“It was during the search of the cabin … that we identified a number of suitcases in the cabin itself that were locked,” he said.
Fitzgerald said it was not the first attempt for drug imports in Australia
, but it was the largest amount of drugs seized in the country at an airport or a cruise ship.
The Sunday operation was carried out in cooperation with the Canada
Border Services Agency, the US Department of Homeland Security Investigations and the New Zealand Customs Service.