You may have heard of the Great Pacific garbage patch (aka, the Pacific trash vortex), the swirling 620,000 square-mile mass of around 100 tons of mostly plastic garbage in the central North Pacific Ocean.1 But off the coast of New Zealand, police located another patch of floating debris: 3.2 tons of cocaine that had been dropped in the ocean by an international drug smuggling syndicate.2
The South Pacific cocaine patch was comprised of 81 bales of the white stuff held together in a net and buoyed by flotation devices. It was likely headed for Australia.
The value of the patch is estimated at half a billion New Zealand dollars ($318 million American dollars), and is the largest seizure of illegal drugs in New Zealand history. Police guessed that it was more cocaine than New Zealand would use in 30 years (yet would only service the Australian market for about one year).