Nine bricks of cocaine with an estimated street value of about $3 million dollars washed up on a beach in New Zealand last week.
The drugs, wrapped in blue packages and bundled inside a netted bag, were discovered by a group of people on West Auckland's Bethells Beach on Wednesday afternoon, Stuff.co.nz reports. The bundle was first discovered when a woman walking her dogs noticed a "strange shaped thing" in the sand. That woman has since revealed that, while waiting for police, her dogs became somewhat territorial about the drugs and "did what they tend to do when they find strange things". That is, they pissed all over them.
"They peed on $3 million worth of drugs,” she said. “They tried to mark it as theirs."
Police conducted a comprehensive sweep of the beach and the surrounding area, but failed to locate any more drugs. Still, Detective Inspector Colin Parmenter has suggested that more could wash up.
"There is a small possibility that further packages may turn up on the beach and we ask any members of the public to contact us immediately if they do," he said. Legal experts have meanwhile warned that anyone caught trying to collect the drugs from the beach could find themselves being prosecuted.
The Oceanic region has seen a number of incidents of cocaine washing ashore in seemingly random places over the past 12 months : from Fiji to Tonga, the Federated States of Micronesia, Tahiti, and Australia. The growing trend seems to be the side-effect of a booming drug highway that runs from South America, through the South Pacific Islands, to Australia and New Zealand—tapping into the latter two countries’ insatiable and extremely lucrative appetite for coke.
The 2018 Global Drug Survey found that New Zealand has some of the most expensive cocaine in the world, followed closely by Australia. It’s not unreasonable to assume, then, that at least some of the drugs washing up on random beaches in the area were originally intended to feed those markets.
In the case of last week's find at Bethells Beach, New Zealand police have suggested that the drugs were part of a shipment bound for Australia and had been lost at sea for a year, The Guardian reports. Australian Border Force were sent to intercept an inflatable boat off northern New South Wales about a year ago, arresting two men on board after they were spotted dumping bricks of cocaine into the sea. While most of those drugs were recovered, some were later found along parts of Australia's east coast.
“The product found on Bethells Beach appears to have been part of this same shipment and has drifted here over the last year," NZ police said in a statement, noting that the markings and packaging was consistent with that seized in Australia. This would mean that the drugs drifted more than 2,100 kilometres across the Tasman Sea.