Four men sentenced over 46kg cocaine bust

The men in court.
The men in court. Photo credit: Newshub

Four men have been sentenced over an attempt to smuggle 46kg of cocaine into New Zealand.

Croatian Mario Habulin, Serbian Deni Cavallo and Australians Matthew John Scott and Benjamin John Northway were sentenced in the Rotorua High Court on Tuesday for their parts in the major drug-smuggling operation.

A five-month Customs and police investigation found a cocaine shipment would be offloaded from a commercial ship outside of Tauranga in October 2017.

Police say the syndicate approached the ship at night time to retrieve the shipment that was concealed in a hidden compartment of the ship's hull.

A police raid found the cocaine at an address in Tauranga, and a further five kilograms at an Onehunga address. The four men were arrested in November 2017.

"We know that the cocaine seized - which had a street value of around $20 million at the time - was destined for New Zealand users and would have caused significant harm in communities across the country," Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers says.

"The arrests of these four men dismantled a trans-national crime syndicate that was seeking to profit from that harm."

They were given sentences ranging between 14-and-a-half years and 27-and-a-half years.