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Canadians charged over record cocaine bust

AAP logoAAP 29/08/2016 Andi Yu and Daniel McCulloch

Three Canadians are behind bars in Sydney after being charged with smuggling 95kg of cocaine into the country aboard a cruise ship, in what authorities say is a record haul.

The trio arrived in Sydney aboard the Sea Princess on Sunday, after starting their journey in Southampton, England, with the cruise liner stopping at several South American countries along the way.

Australian Border Force regional commander Tim Fitzgerald said it was the country's biggest ever cruise ship narcotics seizure.

"This is the biggest seizure of narcotics through a passenger stream, so either through the airport or cruise ships, this 95kg of cocaine is the largest seizure we've seen in Australia," he told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

Authorities believe they've disrupted a major international crime gang attempting to flood Australian streets with illicit drugs.

"I can't go into the specifics about the background of this particular syndicate, but you've got to be a very well-organised syndicate to get your hands on 95kg of cocaine and attempt to import it here into Sydney," Commander Fitzgerald said.

"This particular cruise ship had a number of other ports it was going to visit while in Australia, but certainly the suggestion is that all 95kg of that cocaine was destined for the streets of Australia."

The hefty haul of cocaine, which authorities estimate could be worth around $31 million, was allegedly discovered inside locked suitcases in two vessel cabins.

Andre Tamine, 63, Isabelle Lagace, 28, and Melina Roberce, 22, did not apply for bail at Sydney's Central Local Court on Monday and it was formally refused.

The trio was charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug after police and sniffer dogs searched the vessel when it berthed in Sydney.

They face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and will remain in custody until their next court appearance on October 26.

The joint operation by the AFP and Australian Border Force received co-operation from the US Department of Homeland Security Investigations, New Zealand Customs Service and the Canada Border Services Agency.

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