A remote-controlled robot helped uncover a 200kg shipment of cocaine hidden in the hull of a ship that arrived in Port Melbourne from Argentina. Australian Border Force officers used the underwater vehicle to search the vessel below the waterline and found the drugs in the ship’s sea chest. Specialist divers from the Victoria Police Search and Rescue Squad retrieved the packages, which were seized by the Federal Police. The drugs have an estimated street value of $80 million. Australian Federal Police Commander Richard Chin stated that this concealment method is not new and that law enforcement remains one step ahead of criminals attempting to bring illicit drugs into the country.
Organized crime groups frequently use parasitic hull attachments on commercial ships to transport drugs across borders. In response, the Australian Border Force is using submersible remote-operated vehicles to enhance their ability to detect below-the-waterline concealments of illegal drugs. After the drugs were seized, the ship and crew continued their journey from Victoria to Western Australia and then back to South Australia. Police are urging anyone with information about the drugs or suspicious activity at ports in any of these three states to come forward.
This discovery highlights the ongoing efforts of law enforcement to combat drug smuggling. The use of a remote-controlled robot in the search demonstrates the use of advanced technology in detecting hidden contraband. The Australian Border Force’s use of submersible remote-operated vehicles shows their commitment to staying ahead of organized crime groups. The seizure of the drugs, with an estimated street value of $80 million, is a significant blow to the drug trade in Australia. Authorities are calling on the public to report any information that may help further investigations into drug smuggling activities.