Eight Chinese charged over Australia drug smuggling

Sydney - Eight Chinese nationals have been charged with smuggling drugs using a large commercial vessel, Australian police said Sunday, after their boat was seized off the country's coast.

Ten crew members, all Chinese men, were arrested after navy personnel boarded the 50-metre (164-foot) boat on December 12 and brought it to a port in Hobart in the southern island state of Tasmania four days later.

Eight of them were "charged with 'attempt to import a commercial quantity of border controlled drug'" and appeared in Hobart Magistrates Court Sunday, a Tasmania Police spokeswoman told AFP. The other two were yet to be charged, she added.

The Australian Border Force said Friday the vessel was boarded after it was spotted behaving suspiciously by an aerial patrol and tracked as it moved down nation's west coast, across the Great Australian Bight and towards the coastline of Tasmania.

The alleged type and amount of drugs on board were yet to be being determined as the boat was still being searched.

The eight men did not enter a plea, did not apply for bail and were due back in court next month, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

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