Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says it's 'pretty unusual' to find half a billion dollars worth of cocaine

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster has described the massive haul of illegal drugs found as "pretty unusual".

About 3.2 tonnes were found "afloat" in the Pacific Ocean in recent weeks and have since been transported back to New Zealand for destruction. 

"This is one of the single biggest seizures of illegal drugs by authorities in this country," Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said in a statement. 

"While this disrupts the syndicate's operations, we remain vigilant given the lengths we know these groups will go to circumvent coming to law enforcement's attention."

The statement added the shipment originated from South America and was likely destined for Australia. No charges have been laid in relation to the seizure and investigations are ongoing.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says it's 'pretty unusual' to find half a billion dollars worth of cocaine
Photo credit: New Zealand Police/Supplied

Coster on Thursday denied New Zealand authorities simply stumbled across the drugs but wouldn't get into details of the findings.

He said the "massive seizure" was an "incredible achievement" and it has prevented "massive harm" across the communities the drugs were destined for. 

"I think what we need to note here is the reach that we have right across the Pacific in this case and the impact that we're able to have to contribute to international efforts to stop the flow of drugs, particularly in this case from South America into our region," Coster told AM co-host Ryan Bridge.

"I mean, our ability to detect and to intercept and I would hope in due course to investigate and identify offenders. We are celebrating all aspects of this recovery. It is absolutely significant."

Coster said they found about one year's worth of supply for the Australian market, which is equivalent to "about 30 years of supply of cocaine for our weekly use". 

He told AM a seizure of this size will have a big impact on drug cartels. 

"This one is particularly unusual because of its size… I mean if it was indeed destined for the Australian market to have a year's worth of supply in a single shipment is very unusual," he said.

"There are bigger shipments found, particularly going up into Europe, but for whoever was responsible for this, we believe the impact will be significant. 

"Clearly, the international drug trade is a huge business and the reason we need to be focussed on doing what we do is it's increasing the perceived risk to people who do this of bringing drugs, particularly into our region."

Watch the full interview with Andrew Coster above.