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Cocaine courier's greed earns him jail time

07.33am 15 February 2018 | News

A 47-year-old drug courier sentenced today in the Manukau District Court will spend 8 years and 3 months’ in jail for trying to smuggle 2.6 kg of cocaine through Auckland Airport last October

He will be deported after serving his sentence.

Portuguese national Helder Soares Gomez arrived at Auckland Airport from Chile on 13 October 2017, and was stopped by Customs officers. A baggage examination revealed cocaine, with a street value of up to $1.2 M, hidden in the lining of his two suitcases. During the interview, he admitted to agreeing to carry the cocaine-filled bags for money.

Customs Investigations Manager Bruce Berry says this was not a particularly sophisticated concealment, and shows this man’s greed overrode his common sense.

“Thorough examination by Customs officers at the airport led to the seizure, and this man will now spend considerable time in jail.”

Since his arrest four months ago, Customs has arrested three other cocaine couriers at Auckland Airport and worked with overseas partners to stop another cocaine courier from travelling to New Zealand.

The five couriers intercepted both here and overseas carried a total of 15.8 kg of cocaine. Based on the New Zealand Drug Harm Index, these airport seizures have prevented around $19.6 M of potential additional harm to New Zealanders.