Eight people have been arrested after $54 million worth of drugs were intercepted off Australia’s coast last week. The revealed on Friday that heavily armed commandos had been tasked by Border Protection to help respond to a suspected drug-smuggling ship off the New South Wales coast.

The joint Australia and China operation resulted in the seizure of approximately 90 litres of liquid methamphetamine.

On Friday, five men were arrested on Palm Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches after monitoring by Australian Federal Police and the NSW Police Force Marine Area Command.

Authorities found three barrels of liquid methamphetamine, with a total volume of about 90 litres, valued at an estimated $54 million.

The men — a 47-year-old, a 49-year-old and a 58-year-old from China, a 29-year-old from New Zealand and a 56-year-old from Taiwan — were denied bail in Sydney’s Central Local Court on Friday after being charged with the importation and possession of a commercial quantity of a border controlled drugs.

On Sunday, HMAS Newcastle intercepted the main vessel off the coast of Hervey Bay in Queensland.

Three Chinese men, aged 23, 51 and 56, were arrested and faced Sydney’s Central Local Court on Wednesday, charged with aiding and abetting the importation of a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.

They were refused bail.

In a statement, Justice Minister Michael Keenan praised the “significant cooperation” with the Chinese authorities. Mr Keenan said Australia was the only “Western police force” to have such an arrangement in place.