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A man has drowned off the coast of Newcastle as police retrieve 50kg of cocaine in the same area.
The man was found unconscious by members of the public on the shore of the Hunter River on Monday (May 9) morning.
Emergency services were called as paramedics and passers-by attempted to revive the man using CPR, however, he passed away at the scene.
Detectives were later called after several waterproof packages containing cocaine were also found washed up on the beach.
Marine police divers, with the assistance of the Australian Border Forces, began searching the waters and found many more bricks of the illicit substance.
NSW Police say the potential street value of the drug packages totalled upwards of $20 million.
The man had been found wearing a specialised device that allowed him to stay underwater for an extended period of time, according to The Daily Telegraph.
A spokesperson for the NSW Police said: “A number of packages – which contained more than 50kg of a white powder believed to be cocaine – were located in the immediate vicinity.
“The cocaine has an estimated potential street value of $20 million.”
An investigation is currently underway by the Organised Crime Squad and Australian Federal Police as they attempt to identify exactly why the man drowned and whether he was working as a suspected drug mule.
They will also investigate who the currently unidentified man is, what drug syndicate he might belong to, and where the cocaine was being shipped from.
Organised Crime Squad commander Detective Superintendent Rob Critchlow told ABC News that there were evidently more people involved in the mission because of the complex nature of scuba diving.
He said: “The presence of two boats indicates at least two other people, so very concerning that this man has been left for dead basically.
“[The victim was] either left to die or when he did die these people fled. So it's quite disgusting that this man has been left to die regardless of what he has been involved with.”
Speaking on the complexity in the packaging of the cocaine, Superintendent Chritclow believes the cocaine had been shipped internationally.
He continued: “It was packaged up in a way that appeared to be brought from overseas.
"We're not 100 per cent certain in saying this person was involved, but it certainly is something we're looking at."
In September last year, the Australian Federal Police arrested a 41-year-old Spanish man in Wollongong after Colombian authorities had seized more than 35 kilograms of cocaine bound for Australia within a shipment of coffee beans.
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