Customs has stopped up to $246 million of methamphetamine from reaching New Zealand streets in six months. Another $7.5 million destined for here was also seized in Hong Kong.
Statistics to the end of June show Customs made 1660 separate drug seizures this year. Methamphetamine or its precursors made up the bulk volume – just over half a tonne.
Customs made 63 methamphetamine seizures adding to 141kg and 15L, and 189 seizures of precursors adding to 369kg. This amount of crystal methamphetamine can be worth up to $141 million in street value, and the precursors could have produced up to $105 million more.
Customs Manager Border Operations Shane Panettiere says some of Customs seizures reached record levels last summer. This year, Customs has already seized almost double that amount of methamphetamine, and precursors are continuing to pour in at a steady rate.
“It’s not uncommon for Customs to intercept several kilograms of methamphetamine or precursors in each seizure, sometimes on a daily basis. A major shift in precursors over the last 18 months is the import of ephedrine instead of pseudoephedrine,” Mr Panettiere says.
“Criminals keep trying inventive ways to smuggle drugs, but Customs also continually updates its targeting and examination techniques to keep up with the changing environment.”
Customs Manager Investigations Maurice O’Brien says Customs has made numerous arrests relating to drug importation offences in the first six months of the year.
“Customs is actively working with local and international agencies to target and stop drugs, disrupt and dismantle the international supply chains, and identify and pursue all those involved - wherever they may be.
“An example of this is that in addition to local border seizures, Hong Kong Customs has also seized about 7.5 kg of methamphetamine destined for New Zealand. This shows how closely we’re working to target the drugs trade between both countries, and we’ll continue to do so.”
Of the 1660 seizures, the remaining 1408 seizures included class c analogues – mimic or synthetic drugs (312 seizures), cannabis and its products (256 seizures), prescription medicines (228 seizures) MDMA or ecstasy (157 seizures) and controlled medicines (152 seizures).
Most of these ‘high-frequency, low quantity’ drugs were seized through mail or air cargo, suggesting they were bought online through illegal websites such as Silk Road.