Have you seen this boat? AFP calls for public assistance in ongoing drug investigation
The AFP is appealing for public information about sightings and the occupants of a 5.2 metre open-cab boat last seen near the Newport boat ramp in the Port Melbourne harbour on 8 September, 2022 as part of a drug trafficking investigation.
An Australian national, 32 was arrested in Dunedin, New Zealand on 17 September, 2022 over the alleged attempted importation of approximately 91 kilograms of cocaine to New Zealand on a cargo vessel.
Police will allege the cocaine was originally found in a compartment hidden inside the hull of the Spirit of Auckland vessel.
The 32-year-old Victorian resident allegedly attempted to scuba dive to retrieve the drugs. He was charged with offences relating to the alleged attempted importation of the cocaine and will next face court in New Zealand on 15 March, 2023.
Ongoing international investigations into the criminal syndicate responsible for the alleged drug trafficking have identified a boat seen in the vicinity of the cargo vessel while it stopped in Victoria on its way to New Zealand. The cargo ship travelled through South America, the US and Australia before making port in New Zealand.
Australian authorities are investigating if this boat conducted reconnaissance for the syndicate to try to identify any law enforcement interest, while the Spirit of Auckland was passing through Australian waters.
The 5.2m boat had a distinctive fish skeleton sticker on its body and a black and white centre console.
The AFP is now seeking the public’s help to identify the movements, pictured in footage, of this vessel and information about the people onboard.
Police working together across borders urge anyone with information to come forward.
Anyone who can identify the boat and its movements or occupants is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via crimestoppers.com.au. Information can be provided anonymously.