Customs today welcomed the sentencing of an Auckland man in the Manukau District Court to six years and seven months’ imprisonment for importing 16.5 kilograms of ContacNT, a cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine that can be used to manufacture methamphetamine (P).
This quantity of ContacNT contained enough pseudoephedrine to manufacture between $7.4 to $11.1 million worth of methamphetamine.
Zecheng Li, a 19 year-old student, pleaded guilty to 18 charges of the importation of a Class B controlled drug after ContacNT granules were found concealed within common items including a teddy bear, bicycle frame, and within the actual packaging of some goods.
Li’s co-offender, Jayden Wenski, had pleaded guilty to his involvement in some of the importations and was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment in December 2012.
Customs Manager Investigations, Mark Day, said the drugs were detected following inspection of various consignments by Customs officers.
“This is a great example of the processes and intelligence we have in place to identify these packages and link them to the people involved."
“Criminals are finding it harder to locally source products containing pseudoephedrine and ephedrine so there is an increasing tendency for them to try and source it from overseas,” says Mr Day.
Customs investigators arrested Li after courier packages from China, Hong Kong and Greece were intercepted and found to contain the ContacNT granules. Li arranged to have the packages delivered to a number of associates in the greater Auckland area.
“While the methods of smuggling drugs into the country are constantly evolving, we have the technology and capability to find them.” says Mr Day.
Pseudoephedrine is a Class B controlled drug used in the manufacture of the Class A controlled drug methamphetamine, or ‘P’. Importation of a Class B controlled drug carries a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment.