Ten one-kilo packages of white powder—thought to be cocaine—were found washed up on an Australian beach on Sunday morning, with police suggesting there may be more yet to come.
Beachgoers discovered the packages at the high tide mark on the shore of Hinchinbrook Island, in far north Queensland, and promptly contacted the authorities. Investigators are searching the area and are urging the public to come forward with any information, while they forensically examine the powder and await the results.
While it is suspected to be cocaine, police have cautioned members of the public to avoid handling the packages for fear that the substance may be “hazardous”.
“Anyone who was at sea or on the coastline near these locations and saw anything suspicious in the water or other suspicious activity is urged to contact police,” said Detective Acting Senior Sergeant Camp in a statement from Queensland Police. “It is possible further packages may wash up along the coast due to tidal flows and ocean currents.
“We urge the public to contact police should they find further packages and to not open them as the substance could be hazardous.”
It isn’t clear where the mysterious packages floated in from—but this isn’t the first time caches of drugs have been found under such circumstances. In September 2018, reports emerged that some 120 parcels of cocaine had washed up on the shores of Fijian islands within the space of a few months—not long after similarly marked packages turned up in Tonga.
Weeks later, kayakers paddling off Australia’s east coast found a 20 kilogram brick of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $7 million AUD, floating in the water. The following year, a woman was walking her dogs along a beach in Auckland, New Zealand when she found nine bricks of cocaine, wrapped in blue packages and bundled inside a netted bag, lying on the shore. Those drugs had an estimated street value of about $3 million NZD.
It is broadly believed that such discoveries are the result of a growing drug superhighway that runs between Latin America and Australia, one of the most lucrative cocaine markets in the world, as traffickers are occasionally forced to dump their cargo at sea or abandon stashes on coral reefs.
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