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Bales of Cocaine Wash Ashore in New South Wales

Barnacle-encrusted bales of cocaine have washed up on beaches in New South Wales (NSW Police)
Barnacle-encrusted bales of cocaine have washed up on beaches in New South Wales (NSW Police)

Published Dec 31, 2023 10:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

Authorities in Australia are hunting for the source of all the cocaine that has washed up on the shores of New South Wales (NSW) over the past week.

NSW Police Force announced that over the span of seven days, several packages of cocaine washed ashore on the province's northern beaches. The first discovery occurred on December 22, when officers were called to Magenta Beach. A member of the public located a suspicious package which had washed ashore nearby. Local police attended and seized the item, which allegedly contained 39 sealed packages inside, suspected to be approximately 39 kilograms of cocaine.

Members of the public allegedly located a further seven individually wrapped packages that were believed to contain seven kilogram of cocaine. Separately, a fisherman located a blue barrel containing 39 individually wrapped one-kilo bricks. In yet another discovery, a member of the public found a suspicious package containing approximately 39 individually sealed packages believed to be approximately 39 kilograms of cocaine.

While the source of the drugs remains a mystery, the State Crime Command has launched investigations after the local police had carried out initial inquiries. The seized packages are set to undergo further forensic examination.

PolAir and Marine Area Command, as well as Australian Border Force and Surf Life Saving NSW have also been incorporated in the investigation, which could lead to the seizure of any outstanding packages and the determination of their origin.

The packages might have been surreptitiously attached to the hull of a cargo ship and then torn loose by a storm, according to one theory circulated by NSW Police. A combination of weather patterns produced by Cyclone Jasper could have then washed them ashore. Some of the bales were encrusted in "significant barnacle growth," which would support the idea that they had been underwater for a long time. 

“Detectives and specialist police are currently combing beaches and coastlines for any outstanding packages and working behind the scenes to make sure we find and hold accountable those responsible,” said Jason Weinstein, Director of State Crime Command, Detective Chief Superintendent.

The discovery of the drugs washing ashore comes when NSW is witnessing an unprecedented increase in narcotics seizures. Just last week, the NSW Police Robbery and Serious Crime Squad detectives charged five men over an alleged kidnapping attempt that led to the discovery of 722 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of over US$680 million.