$330 million in cocaine seized from Vanuatu yacht

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Associated Press

Posted on August 23, 2013 at 12:04 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 23 at 12:06 AM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — U.S. and Australian agents seized 750 kilograms (1,650 pounds) of cocaine from a yacht in the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, officials said Friday.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Australian Federal Police have collaborated with South Pacific governments since 2010 to investigate organized crime syndicates' use of yachts to smuggle cocaine from South America to Australia.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service said in a statement that Vanuatu police assisted in the seizure made Monday at the capital, Port Vila.

The drugs worth 370 million Australian dollars ($330 million) were found in the engine compartment of the yacht.

No arrests have yet been made.

Australia has become an increasingly lucrative market for international drug syndicates because the relative strength of its currency and economy.

U.S.-Australian cooperation with authorities in Vanuatu, Tonga, the Cook Islands, and New Caledonia have resulted in almost 2 tons of cocaine destined for Australia being seized from five vessels since 2010.

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