New Zealand makes biggest cocaine bust in banana shipment

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand police have made the country's largest cocaine seizure, with 190 kilograms (418 pounds) of the drug found in a container of bananas shipped from Panama.

New Zealand police and customs officials said Friday that the cocaine was contained in five duffel bags on top of bananas in a shipment which arrived in Auckland from Balboa, Panama, in August.

A 41-year-old man's been arrested in Sydney after a joint operation with Australia's Federal Police and its Criminal Intelligence Commission, police in Auckland said.

The bust came after the shipment was identified as suspicious following an investigation into an Australia-based organized crime group, New Zealand police and customs said.

Detective Inspector Paul Newman of New Zealand's National Organized Crime Group said the seizure was very significant for both New Zealand and Australia.

"This operation has once again shown our dedication to disrupting organized crime and reducing the devastating harm that drugs cause in our community," he said.

Newman said New Zealand and Australia were recognized as lucrative markets for illicit drugs, "which is why we work closely together and share intelligence."