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Joint NZ Police-Customs Operation Viceroy: Four people arrested as part of methamphetamine operation

02.48pm 24 May 2023 | News

Police can now confirm four people have been arrested as part of Operation Viceroy, an investigation into a large quantity of methamphetamine imported into New Zealand in March this year.

Operation Viceroy is a joint NZ Police and Customs investigation into the importation of 83 kilos of methamphetamine from South Africa. The material was concealed in pallets and arrived at Port Napier.

This is the largest recorded importation of methamphetamine into Napier and the first major drug intercept out of South Africa via sea freight.

Police have gathered evidence that the drugs were intended to be distributed into the Auckland market.

Following enquiries, Police and Customs staff executed multiple search warrants in Auckland on 27 and 28 March.

These warrants resulted in the arrest of four people aged between 27 and 33.

Charges against the four arrested include importation of the Class A controlled drug methamphetamine, conspiracy to supply methamphetamine and possession for supply of methamphetamine.

They are due to reappear in the Manukau District Court on Friday 30 June.

The street value of the 83 kilos of methamphetamine is almost 29 million dollars and more than 90 million dollars in drug harm prevention.

Detective Inspector Darrin Thomson of the National Organised Crime Group (NOCG) stated, “this is a considerable seizure with more than 4 million doses of harm taken off the streets. Between NZ Customs and ourselves, we are continuing our investigations to identify the perpetrators behind this importation.

“These arrests demonstrate the excellent collaboration between Police and Customs and the strength of our border security in action. A significant syndicate has had its supply chain disrupted and it again highlights the determination of law enforcement to keep New Zealanders safe from the harm associated with methamphetamine.

“Methamphetamine impacts our communities in the worst of ways and both Police and Customs are committed to taking every opportunity to disrupt this organised crime and hold offenders to account,” Detective Inspector Thomson said.

“Protecting Aotearoa New Zealand requires a partnership approach and these sorts of drug seizures combine the hard work of a lot of people both inside and outside border enforcement,” Customs Investigations Manager Cam Moore said.

“Alongside our partnership with Police, this seizure combined Customs’ targeting expertise that identified the likely suspicious shipment before it even arrived. And that work combined with our investigators and frontline teams in Napier to ensure this shipment of methamphetamine did not cross our border,” Cam Moore said.

“This result also reflects the important work our Customs-controlled Area teams do in Napier and other border entry points around Aotearoa New Zealand alongside port companies and others involved in New Zealand’s supply chain.

“Our Border Protect programme educates those who work at the border or international supply chain about how they help can look out for suspicious shipments or behaviours and report it confidentially.”

If you know of someone who is dealing in illicit drugs or suspect someone is, you can notify Customs anonymously through the Border Protect report form online, or call Customs on 0800 WE PROTECT (0800 937 768) a 24-hour confidential hotline, or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.