Cocaine haul prompts a search for an Australian trio that was rescued at sea

Aerial view of the three men and the cooler floating at sea

Two weeks after being saved at sea, one of the three men who are being looked into for possible drug trafficking was arrested.

According to police, the 36-year-old man was detained in Darwin and was scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.

On February 1, the trio was discovered clinging to an esky cool box off Western Australia (WA).

They allegedly told police that their boat capsized while they were out fishing.

Authorities started looking for the men after later finding 365kg of cocaine in at least two locations. They may have been associated with an international drug shipment.

According to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the arrested man, Aristides Avlontis, is accused of bringing in a commercial quantity of a substance that is subject to border controls.

Mate Stipinovich, 49, and Karl Whitburn, 45, who is the registered owner of the capsized boat, are still being sought by police. They are thought to be in WA.

When the trio was first saved near Eclipse Island, 17 km south of Albany in Western Australia, authorities applauded them and said in a press release that their case "highlighted the importance of wearing a lifejacket and carrying an emergency beacon.".

However, WA police quickly discovered contradictions in the trio's account and contacted the AFP, who launched an investigation.

A black plastic-wrapped package containing cocaine parcels was discovered on a beach 54 kilometers (33 miles) west of Albany six days after the men were rescued.

Then, the following day, eight similarly wrapped packages, each containing about 40kg of cocaine, were found inside of an overturned cabin cruiser.

The drugs, according to the police, were taken from the ocean and transported by boat to land. It is unknown how the drugs ended up in the ocean in the first place.

The seizure of the drugs, according to AFP Acting Commander Graeme Marshall, would deal a "significant blow" to a "well-resourced syndicate.".

According to the AFP, this seizure has prevented more than $235 million in drug-related harm to the community, including associated crime, medical expenses, and lost productivity.

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