The accused – Sydney residents Jackson Giles-Adams and Christopher Freca and Hong Kong citizen Man Wah Chan – made brief appearances in Sydney Central Local Court on Wednesday, where Commonwealth prosecutors said further charges were being considered.
The men have already been charged with attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug and for failing to identify themselves. They could face life sentences if convicted.
Another charge over the suspected attempt to destroy the evidence is now being explored, pending forensic examination of the explosive materials.
The court heard that evidence related to the materials was “likely” to be the basis of a serious further charge.
The joint Australian Federal Police, NSW Police and Australian Border Force interception of the Coralynne, a small NSW-based commercial fishing vessel, took place in 3.5-metre swells on the morning of August 15.
New Zealand authorities originally alerted the ABF to the Chinese “mothership” charting a suspicious course off the coast. A surveillance operation then observed the Coralynne “approaching the foreign vessel and making an alleged at-sea transfer of illicit drugs bound for Australia”, according to the AFP, NSW Police and ABF.
“This 1.8 tonne seizure is now the largest on-shore cocaine seizure in Australia to date, and would have a potential street value of approximately up to $850.5 million,” the three agencies said.