The haul of 81 bales, which had been drifting hundreds of kilometers northwest of New Zealand, was found, according to the police, in a joint operation between the New Zealand Customs Service and Defence Force acting on intelligence from the Five Eyes alliance, which also includes Australia, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
According to Andrew Coster, Commissioner of New Zealand Police, this is by a significant margin the largest discovery of illicit substances by New Zealand’s agencies.
The pills were dropped at a “floating transit point” in the Pacific Ocean, where they would have been picked up and transported, according to officials.
“We believe it was destined for Australia, where it would have been enough to service the market for one year,” Coster said.
“It is more than New Zealand would use in 30 years.”
A police photo showed the massive haul was bound by netting and covered in yellow floats. Some of the bales had a Batman symbol on them, with the packages of cocaine inside labelled with what appeared to be a print of a four-leaf clover.
Coster described the bust as a “huge result” for police in both New Zealand and Australia.
“There is no doubt this discovery lands a major financial blow right from the South American producers through to the distributors of this product,” he added.
Officials said it was too early to say where the drugs came from.
No arrests have been made.