Wednesday, October 14, 1998 Published at 06:56 GMT 07:56 UK
Australia's record drugs haul
Australian customs seized the freighter
Police in Australia have seized their largest-ever haul of heroin: 400kg, worth around A$400m ($250m).
"It's the purest form of heroin," police agent Ray Tinker said.
Three men were immediately arrested.
"I'd say they were surprised to see us," police agent Tinker said.
The Belize-registered freighter had arrived off Port Macquarie after sailing from an undisclosed South East Asian port.
Ten week operation
Australian authorities then worked with the Hong Kong police to try to uncover the smuggling ring.
Late on Tuesday evening, police, customs and navy officials used sophisticated thermal imaging equipment to watch the drugs being off-loaded from the freighter and on to the smaller boat.
A total of 18 people have so far been arrested, and police have said further inquiries are being made in Australia and Hong Kong.
The state police minister in New South Wales, Paul Whelan, has said the seizure is merely the tip of the heroin iceberg.
He said customs are so inadequately funded in Australia they can search only one in every 50 arriving aircraft and only three in every 10,000 shipping containers for drugs.