Police seize 1.1 tonnes worth £212m in Australia's 'largest cocaine bust'

Seized cocaine. Credit: Australian Federal Police

Police in Australia have seized more than one tonne of cocaine with a street value of around £212 million in their largest cocaine bust in the country's history.

Some 15 men have been charged as part of the operation which lasted more than two years.

In July 2014 police began their investigation into suspected drug trafficking by commercial fishermen in Sydney.

The investigation came to an end during the night of Christmas Day 2016 when police intercepted a Sydney fishing vessel they had been monitoring throughout the month and discovered 500kg (1102lbs) of cocaine and arrested three men.

Following the discovery searches were carried out and a further 12 men arrested.

The 15 men, aged between 29 and 63, were all charged with conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drugs, the maximum penalty for which is life imprisonment.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan, National Manager of Organised Crime and Cyber, told ABC News: "The criminal syndicate we have dismantled over the last few days was a robust, resilient and determined syndicate.

"This is the largest cocaine seizure we have had in Australia.

"It posed an ongoing and continued threat to the Australian community and without the work of our police, would still be in action today."

Previously as part of the same operation, police identified five alleged plots to import drugs into Australia, including the seizure of 32kg (70lbs) of heroin in Fiji in December 2014, and 606kg (1336lbs) of cocaine in Tahiti in March 2016.

NSW Police Force State Crime Commander, Assistant Commissioner Mark Jenkins, added: “This job began with a thread of information to the NSWPF’s Drug Squad two-and-a-half years ago.

"What has followed and the results achieved are a powerful example of the impact made by the hard work and cooperation of the NSW Police Force, Australian Federal Police, and our partners in combating transnational organised crime activities such as drug trafficking.”