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Another cocaine smuggler fails to get past Customs

04.23pm 28 February 2018 | News

A Brazilian man was sentenced to seven years and two months in prison today for carrying 3.4 kg of cocaine worth up to $1.5M through Auckland Airport last year.

Joao Marcelo Albanez, 39, came to the attention of Customs officers carrying out pre-screening, before he arrived into New Zealand from Chile on 28 November 2017.

An x-ray of his suitcase showed inconsistencies, and the search located a black plastic package of cocaine in a hidden compartment behind the base. Although Albanez initially denied any knowledge, when formally interviewed he admitted to transporting the cocaine in exchange for money because he was "broke and needed to pay for school."

Customs Manager Passenger Operations at Auckland Airport Peter Lewis says criminal syndicates might think Customs will not pay attention in holiday periods or busier times, but this arrest proves that is not the case.

"This man will now spend time in jail and miss out on his education. He will then carry a criminal conviction, which will limit future international travel and career opportunities – the consequences are never worth the risk."

Customs made 19 drug-related arrests at our international airports last year, including eight arrests for a total of 26 kg cocaine. Sixteen arrests were at Auckland Airport.

If you have suspicions that someone may be getting enticed or duped by criminal syndicates into drug smuggling here or overseas, call 0800 4 CUSTOMS.