Four men have appeared in the Tauranga District Court after police seized a record haul of cocaine estimated to be worth $20 million.
A five-month long inquiry by Customs and police uncovered 46kg of the drug at a local address on Wednesday in what was the largest single seizure of the drug in New Zealand.
The two organisations joined forces to carry out investigative work and established that a cocaine shipment would be offloaded from a commercial ship near Tauranga.
It arrived from Chile on October 31, when its alleged the offenders approached the vessel under the cover of darkness, retrieving the drugs from a hidden compartment on the exterior of the hull.
Search warrants executed in Tauranga and Auckland resulted in the arrests of Australians Matthew Scott, 44 and Benjamin Northway 35, Croatian Mario Hubulin, 45, and 46-year-old Serbian national Deni Cavallo.
They're facing a combined 20 charges including importing, possessing and supplying class A drugs, and being part of an organised crime syndicate.