Australian police seize $195m worth of cocaine aboard Maersk Boxship
Australian authorities have seized 700 kilos of cocaine from a container aboard a Maersk boxship in Sydney, adding to the growing shortage of cocaine in Eastern Australia.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officers discovered the drugs on board on July 22, 2022 while inspecting containers aboard the container ship Maersk Inverness, who had docked the day before. The shipment was packed in 28 denim bags inside a shipping container marked “wood products” on the manifest. Each bag contained 25 kilos of cocaine and each brick had a brand name, including “5”, “365” and “Netflix”. The ABF estimates the value of the shipment at approximately $195 million (USD).
After an inspection, the Inverness was allowed to continue her commercial journey. AFP Detective Inspector Luke Wilson said the container ship stopped at ports in Central and South America before heading to Australia.
“The interception of this amount of drugs would be a major blow to a well-resourced syndicate and prevent millions of dollars in drug profits from flowing back into the syndicate to fund their lavish lifestyle or their next criminal enterprise,” Wilson said.
Australia has always had high selling prices for cocaine, but the value has skyrocketed during the pandemic. It has recently hovered between $220 and $280 per gram, well above the $3 to $4 paid in Colombia, or even the $80 to $120 price range in the United States. This is a lucrative opportunity for smuggling syndicates: Australia has more cocaine users per capita than any other country in the world, with the highest concentration centered in Sydney, and they consume approximately 5, 5 tons of drugs.
The profit potential also trickles down to the wholesale market. A one kilo brick of cocaine delivered to Sydney is worth huge amounts of money – up to 75 times more than it is worth on the dock in Central America.
“So the risks that these enablers or these organized crime syndicates in Australia – they are willing to take [them]”Andalous Knoll Soloff, a Mexico City-based reporter, told News Corp.
Australian Federal Police are still searching for the criminal syndicate behind the 700kg cargo seized on board Maersk Inverness.