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Customs seizes $176M of meth from shipping containers

03.29pm 28 October 2016 | News

A 20-year-old Hong Kong national appeared in the Auckland District Court this morning on a charge relating to his role in attempting to smuggle an estimated 176 kgs of meth, with a potential street value of $176 million, into New Zealand.

This is Customs’ largest-ever meth seizure, and is the result of a 16-month investigation after Customs identified a company believed to have been set up in June 2015 to smuggle methamphetamine.

Investigations continued and in July 2016, Customs intercepted 10 shipping containers sent to this company from China, with multiple meth packages found concealed within the containers’ doors.

Further investigations linked the shipment to the 20-year-old man. He was arrested following two search warrants in Auckland in early October, where further evidence of his involvement was found.

Customs Group Manager Intelligence, Investigations & Enforcement, Jamie Bamford, says this significant seizure shows Customs can make a dent in the methamphetamine supply chain, and continues to use intelligence to target shipments before they arrive.

“Customs remains focussed on disrupting transnational smuggling through our role at the border and dismantling the criminal syndicates involved. This operation is ongoing, and we are not ruling out further arrests.

“This seizure will have prevented New Zealand’s criminal gangs from profiting from the misery caused by pushing meth through our cities and rural communities,” Mr Bamford says.

Based on the NZ Drug Harm Index, this seizure has prevented a potential social harm of up to $218 million.

“As with all our investigations, we will also liaise with our overseas customs counterparts for follow-up investigations in China and Hong Kong,” Mr Bamford says.

The man’s next appearance is scheduled for 17 November in the Auckland District Court.