Australia

Ten foreign men charged over Australia drug haul

Australian authorities intercepted the vessel off Tasmania Image copyright Australian Government
Image caption Australian authorities intercepted the vessel off Tasmania

Ten men have been charged with drug smuggling after a boat allegedly carrying 186kg (410lb) of cocaine was intercepted off Australia's coast.

Local media said the men were Chinese nationals. If convicted, they could face life in prison.

The Australian Defence Force seized the 50m (165ft) vessel off the coast of Tasmania nine days ago.

Tasmania Police on Wednesday estimated the drugs had a street value of A$60m (£36m; $44m).

Assistant Commissioner Glenn Frame said the accused men were all foreign nationals aged between 23 and 50.

He said the drugs had been compressed into bricks and wrapped in plastic.

"Due to the size of the vessel, the examination took a number of days," he said in a statement.

Image copyright Australian Federal Police
Image caption The men who were charged are reported to be Chinese

Police were still investigating the origin of the drugs and where they were headed.

"It is unlikely that a criminal venture of this nature would target the small Tasmanian market," Assistant Commissioner Frame said.

The men were refused bail and are to reappear in Hobart Magistrates Court on 13 January.

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