Five tonnes of cocaine with a street value of £737m have been seized from a “suspicious” fishing boat off Sicily.
According to the border police, this is the biggest cocaine bust ever on Italian soil.
An Italian, two Tunisians, a French and an Albanian have been arrested.
Footage released by police shows two officers on board the boat removing a panel, which was being used to hide a large room full of bags of Class A drugs.
Cops struggled to lift a bag – and when they fumbled with a knife to find out what was inside, white powder was left on the blade.
In total, dozens of bags of cocaine were recovered.
Officers were closely tracking a ship, which had initially set off from South America, and capsized in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
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A surveillance plane saw the packages being thrown from the deck and into the waters of the Strait of Sicily to be collected by a waiting fishing trawler.
Renato Schifani, Sicily’s regional president, said the seizure was a huge blow to traffickers.
“Drugs are a scourge of our society created by unscrupulous men who sow the seeds of death by crushing hope and destroying many families,” he added.
In April, Italian police discovered two tonnes of cocaine floating in the sea east of Sicily, which they believed to have been dropped off by a cargo ship for collection.