Authorities found more than 110 pounds of cocaine in close proximity to an unconscious diver, officials said Tuesday. The man, who has yet to be identified, was pronounced dead at the scene of the incident.
Emergency services responded to reports of an unconscious diver on the shore of Hunter River in Newcastle, New South Wales on Monday, according to the New South Wales Police Force. Despite CPR efforts by paramedics and members of the public, the man died.
Officials located “a number of packages” containing what is suspected to be cocaine in the diver’s immediate vicinity. According to the NSW Police Force, the drugs have an estimated street value of $20 million AUD, which is equivalent to around $14 million USD.
Specialist forensic police are examining the area of the incident, which has been established as a crime scene, and a search of the surrounding waters will continue through Tuesday.
According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s latest Illicit Drug Data Report, approximately 38.5 tonnes of illicit drugs were seized in the country between 2019 and 2020, including 5,750 national cocaine seizures. Over the last decade, the number of national illicit drug seizures increased in Australia by 74% and the number of national illicit drug arrests increased 96%.
“Serious and organised criminals are at the centre of Australia’s illicit drug market, motivated by greed, power and profit,” Michael Phelan, CEO of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, said in the report. “We know serious and organised crime groups continue to generate significant profits from the sale of illicit substances, with the price paid for illicit drugs in Australia being among the highest in the world.”