Three men, two of which are former NRL players, have been arrested after they were caught in possession of firearms and $650,000 cash in Centennial Park, Sydney.

Those in question are ex-Parramatta players Aukuso Junior Paulo, 34, from Crows Nest and Royce Hura, 27, from Constitution Hill.

Park goers watch chaos unfold

Police Tactical Operations Unit pounced in full view of terrified park goers on Wednesday, deploying a non-lethal projectile to subdue the three men driving a white rental van.

Organised crime detectives had been following the trio throughout the day before deciding to arrest them at the first earliest opportunity and at the safest location.

Police shot the nonlethal canisters through the windscreen of the van on Grand Drive, the road which circles the busy eastern suburbs park.

Surrounding roads were shut down while the operation was underway with Police stressing that the situation was well controlled, despite mothers and their children watching the chaos unfold in front of them.

Two of the men in question were in possession of semiautomatic firearms, with the third carrying a large sum of money thought to be just under $650,000.

The men from Western Sydney were taken into custody, asked to assist police with the enquiry and have since had the matter briefly mentioned at Waverley Local Court.

All three men are charged with unlawfully possessing a self-loading semiautomatic Beretta pistol, a self-loading semiautomatic Smith Wesson pistol and ammunition.

Kigi Kamuta, 39, is the third man involved in the alleged crime and he was refused bail by magistrate Michael Barko who said the police facts sheet painted a curious picture.

Barko pointed to the undeniable evidence already against the trio, stating they used firearms to protect them in transporting the large sum of money, now confirmed to be $649,990 in cash.

The magistrate at Waverley Local Court was told that the money was found in a bag in Kumuta’s car, while Paulo and Hura occupied firearms for protection in the white rental van.

Lawyer Nick Hanna told the magistrate that all three men would apply for bail next week after the charges were adjourned to Central Local Court on Tuesday.

Player backgrounds

Aukuso Junior Paulo, not be confused with current Canberra Raiders player Junior Paulo, started his career at Parramatta in 2007 where he made 17 appearances over three seasons.

He signed for St George Illawarra Dragons in 2010 and Penrith Panthers a year later but failed to make a single appearance for either NRL club.

Paulo has also played three times for the United States and was part of their 2013 Rugby League World Cup squad, making one appearance at prop in their 32-20 victory against the Cook Islands in Bristol.

Royce Hura is a lesser known name than Paulo but did play for the Parramatta Eels’ under-20s team in 2010. He was also briefly involved in the Sydney Roosters set-up before being released.