A joint operation between Australian Federal Police and Customs has netted the country’s third largest haul of cocaine.

In an early morning raid just north of Brisbane they seized almost half a tonne of the drug.

Christopher Steele reports.

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The swoop came after a tip-off from the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Australian authorities were on the look out for suspicious vessels entering Australian waters after intelligence warned of a potential off shore drug exchange.

Marion Grant, Border Protection Service Deputy CEO: “We started an extensive aerial surveillance operation in an effort to locate the target vessel. As I said it was very much searching for the needle in the haystack.”

The mother vessel carrying the cocaine is believed to have arrived in Australian waters from South America in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

It’s alleged the exchange took place some 800 kilometres of the coast of Brisbane, before the daughter vessel returned to Scarborough Marina where the drugs were seized.

On board was 464kg of cocaine, stored in brightly coloured back-packs barely concealed.

Andrew Coleman, AFP Deputy Commissioner: “One of these pleasure craft alone sailed into Australia with a cargo that could potentially destroy thousands of Australian lives, and by seizing 460kgs of cocaine, the AFP and it’s partners have prevented more than 500 thousand drug hits hitting the streets of Australia.”

Police have since charged two men with attempted importation of a border controlled drug and one other with possession. They’re being held to re appear on November 5.

Christopher Steele, QUT News.