Woman ‘P’ swallower and two accomplices caught at Auckland Airport — $600k of swallowed ‘P’ at Auckland Airport since September, says Customs 11/02/2011

A woman carrying 40 pellets of crystal methamphetamine ('P') inside her body in an attempt to smuggle it through Auckland Airport, is now in custody after New Zealand Customs stopped and searched her.  

The woman, a South African national, arrived in Auckland last Friday and was targeted as a potential drug smuggler by Customs officers. She was detained and subsequent scans showed her to be carrying a large number of latex pellets internally — with a total amount of 570 grams of 'P' in 40 pellets — each weighing approximately five grams.  

The woman’s detention led to a joint operation between Customs and the New Zealand Police.  

Two men were also arrested, and charged with conspiracy to import 'P' after the Police identified their connection to the woman. The two men — a Nigerian and a South African, believed to be travelling on a false passport, were identified when they visited the woman. Both men appeared in court on Monday and have been remanded on bail.  

Since September last year, New Zealand Customs has caught seven ‘swallowers’ carrying drugs internally, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and opium. The dramatic increase in this method of transportation appears to be driven by the activities of several transnational criminal networks.  

In New Zealand, methamphetamine sells for between $540 and $1,500 per gram, making this amount of 'P' have a value of between $300,000 and $600,000.  

The Minister of Customs, Maurice Williamson, said he was shocked at the alarming trend but was proud of the work Customs officers have demonstrated in stopping these people getting into our country. 

“Our people will continue to be vigilant and alert at New Zealand’s border and our Customs officers will persist in stopping these scoundrels bringing this menace into our society.”  

The risk of ‘swallowing’ is highlighted by the recent death in Thailand of an Iranian-born New Zealand passport holder who was attempting to smuggle 'P' internally out of Thailand. His body was returned to New Zealand in January.  

Comptroller of Customs, Martyn Dunne said this is a concerning and potentially life threatening trend due to the risks involved in carrying drugs internally.    

“Our officers are very well equipped to deal to these people and this method is a senseless attempt that will be foiled.”  

This page was last updated on: Friday, 15 April 2011 .

News stories - Woman ‘P’ swallower and two accomplices caught at Auckland Airport — $600k of swallowed ‘P’ at Auckland Airport since September, says Customs