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Police seize 320kg of cocaine from campervan in Port Hedland, allege drugs smuggled in by boat

WA police seized 320kg of cocaine, wrapped in 1kg blocks

Two men with suspected links to organised crime have been charged over a $128 million cocaine seizure in Western Australia's remote Pilbara region.

The 320 kilograms of the drug were discovered in a campervan, wrapped in 1kg blocks, in Port Hedland on Sunday.

A 49-year-old man from New South Wales who was in the campervan was arrested, while a 37-year-old German man was arrested later.

It is alleged the German man came to Australia from overseas in early May to help retrieve the drugs.

Police said he then met up with the older man in Port Hedland and they travelled to Karratha, about 240 kilometres away, where they hired a 6.5-metre boat.

The cocaine was found in a campervan, divided into 320 individual one-kilogram blocks. (ABC News: Joanna Menagh)

They are accused of returning to Port Hedland and launching the boat on both Thursday and Friday evening of last week to travel about 28 kilometres off the coast, allegedly to collect the drugs from a "mothership".

Police said the boat was seen idling near an international bulk carrier, and said investigations were underway to determine if that vessel was used to import the drugs into Australian waters from overseas.

Police said they believed the drugs were destined for the east coast.

A NSW man and a German national with suspected organised crime links have been charged over the haul. (Supplied: Australian Federal Police)

AFP issues warning to criminal syndicates

The drug seizure was the result of a joint investigation by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), WA Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Border Force (ABF).

The drugs were discovered in a campervan in Port Hedland. (Supplied: WA Police)

AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said the criminal syndicates behind the importation of drugs must be aware that police were coming for them.

"We will not stop, and we will be relentless," he told a media conference in Perth.

Acting WA Police Commissioner Col Blanch described WA's north as a hostile environment, something he said made investigations into the alleged importation difficult.

"It's a hostile environment in weather, in landscape. It's a very difficult area for law enforcement to operate," he said.

"To get surveillance, Tactical Response Group, detectives, specialist units out there every day to watch the activities of these alleged importers of drugs into our country was a spectacular effort, so I thank those officers who were involved in that operation."

Police allege the men used a boat to sail 30km offshore to pick up the drugs from another boat. (ABC News: Robert Koenig-Luck)

Bulk carrier searched by police

ABF Commander James Copeman said his officers, along with WA Police Tactical Response Group officers, had boarded the international cargo ship to ensure any potential evidence was secured.

The AFP held a media conference in Perth to announce the seizure and show off the haul. (ABC News: Robert Koenig-Luck)

He said the ship was then directed to dock at Port Hedland, where more officers from the AFP and WA Police boarded the vessel.

"A comprehensive search of the vessel was then conducted and a significant number of electronic devices were seized," he said.

The two men are facing charges of importing a commercial quantity of cocaine and face possible life jail terms if convicted.

They made their first court appearance in South Hedland on Monday and were remanded in custody, with the pair due back in court next month.

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