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Men face life behind bars after police stop yacht packed with methamphetamine of NSW coast

Men face life behind bars after police stop yacht packed with methamphetamine of NSW coast

A yacht packed with hundreds of kilograms of suspected methamphetamine has been stopped off the coast of NSW, with two men accused of trying to import the drug into Australia.

A 33-year-old New Zealand man and 34-year-old British-South African man face the potential of life behind bars after being charged with importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs.

The pair was arrested on Saturday when NSW Police intercepted the sailboat La Fayette in waters off Lake Macquarie, Australian Federal Police and NSW Police said on Sunday.

The duo was refused bail to appear at Parramatta Bail Court later on Sunday.

The boat came to the attention of local authorities after New Caledonian authorities mentioned they had recently been alerted to a different vessel that said it had come from Mexico via Norfolk Island.

That tip-off led Australia to focus on La Fayette, which police allege was loaded with 1000 blocks of methamphetamine in waters around Norfolk Island.

The yacht was brought to Balmain on Saturday, with forensic testing to be done to determine the exact weight and purity of the drugs, police say.

The seizure comes after a joint investigation involving the AFP, NSW Police, Australian Border Force and authorities in the United Kingdom and New Caledonia.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Justine Gough says even though world borders are physically closed because of COVID-19, police remain alert for attempts to bring illicit drugs into Australia.

“Organised crime groups will stop at nothing - not even a global pandemic - to try and flood our communities with drugs for greed and profit,” she said in a statement on Sunday.

NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said significant resources were used to target and intercept the yacht before the drugs could make it to the streets.

“With every seizure we make, a syndicate is taken down and it’s evident this criminal network has gone to extreme measures to traffic drugs into NSW with current international travel restrictions,” he said.

Officers took additional precautions during the arrest because of the COVID-19 pandemic by decontaminating the vessel and testing the two offenders for the virus.